Research into the effects of mindfulness meditation indicates improvements in mental health and cognitive function. Mechanisms underpinning these improvements include increased attentional function and decreased emotional reactivity. These functions are engaged when an individual reacts to an error. As such, researchers have examined differences in neural activity between mindful and non-mindful groups during tasks that elicit error responses using electroencephalography (EEG). Event-related potentials associated with error-processing are primarily the error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe), which occur ~ 0–150 ms and ~ 200–400 ms following an error. This meta-analysis aimed to determine the effects of mindfulness on ERN and Pe amplitudes.
Our literature search revealed 16 studies that examined the ERN (total N = 887, 469 mindfulness, 418 controls) and 12 studies that examined the Pe (total N = 747, 395 mindfulness, 352 controls).
Results showed a weak association between mindfulness and more negative ERN amplitudes at electrode FCz, with inconsequential Bayesian evidence, after the analysis was restricted to studies including healthy participants only (Q(1) = 4.725, p = 0.030, BF10 = 1.714). The results also provided a preliminary suggestion that mindfulness reduced the Pe amplitude at electrode Pz (Q(2) = 8.023, p = 0.018), when studying individuals that had weeks to years of mindfulness practice (but not less than weeks of mindfulness practice).
The results do not provide good evidence that mindfulness meditation affects EEG measures of error processing. However, our findings are limited by heterogeneity and potential biases, and as such should be interpreted with caution.
Protocol and Registration
Systematic Review Registration: PROSPERO CRD42021249775.