Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

measuring concentration with Sustained Attention Response Task (SART)?

measuring concentration with Sustained Attention Response Task (SART)?
concentration jhana
Answer
11/21/19 12:57 PM
Has anyone measured their concentration before and after meditation using the Sustained Attention Response Task?  I first heard about SART in an interview with Dr. Amishi Jha (http://www.amishi.com/lab/), a neuroscientist who has studied both meditation and attention extensively.  She explained that SART measures attention by showing the test subject a series of numbers and asking them to press a button whenever the number is *not* a 0.  People with better attention perform better on this (very boring) task.  In her studies, long-term meditation measurably improves performance on SART.

Today, it occurred to me that jhānic meditation should improve *short-term* performance on SART—when emerging from a jhāna, a meditator should have a mind "concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability", which sure sounds like "better at paying attention"!  So, I decided to test myself immediately before and after a 45-minute sit using this $2 app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id942759372

My initial results are fairly promising—I took the test once as a warmup a bit before starting the sit, and then took it twice before the sit and twice after.  My performance was basically the same in the two pre-sit tests, and then was dramatically improved in the two post-sit tests.

I intend to measure myself for at least a few days.  I may continue to do so for longer, although I have some concern that doing so might be "wasting" the elevated concentration on taking a test (rather than, say, using those minutes for insight practice).