For the study, researchers assigned 63 student volunteers to one of two groups: The first group underwent four daily 20-minute meditation sessions, while the other group spent an equivalent amount of time listening to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit being read aloud. At the end of the study, members of the meditation group showed significant improvement in cognitive function. In fact, those who'd been trained in meditation scored as much as ten times better on one test that involved sustaining the ability to focus (compared to those who'd listened to The Hobbit).
"Findings like these suggest that meditation's benefits may not require extensive training to be realized, and that meditation's first benefits may be associated with increasing the ability to sustain attention," states study author Fadel Zeidan.