University of Oulu

Maarit Lassander, Mirka Hintsanen, Sakari Suominen, Sari Mullola, Åse Fagerlund, Tero Vahlberg & Salla-Maarit Volanen (2020) The Effects of School-based Mindfulness Intervention on Executive Functioning in a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial, Developmental Neuropsychology, 45:7-8, 469-484, DOI: 10.1080/87565641.2020.1856109

The effects of school-based mindfulness intervention on executive functioning in a cluster randomized controlled trial

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Author: Lassander, Maarit1; Hintsanen, Mirka2; Suominen, Sakari3,4;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Unit of Psychology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Public Health, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
4Department of Public Health, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
5Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6Teachers College, National Center for Children and Families (NCCF), Columbia University, NY, USA
7Public Health Research Programme, Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
8Department of Biostatistics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
9Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-03-10


Executive functions (EFs) are essential for student’s learning and classroom functioning. The current cluster randomized controlled trial examines the effects of mindfulness intervention vs. active control program (i.e., relaxation) focusing on the main EFs (i.e., working memory, response inhibition, cognitive processing, cognitive flexibility and verbal fluency). A total of 131 students from 6th grade and 8th grade (median age 12 and 15) from four comprehensive schools participated. The schools were to equal shares randomized to intervention and active control groups, i.e., groups who underwent a 9-week mindfulness practice or relaxation program, respectively. Participants completed a cognitive test-package at baseline/pre-intervention, post-intervention at 9 weeks and follow-up at 6 months. Both intervention and active relaxation-based control groups improved on a majority of EF measures at both 9 weeks and 6 months. There was no significant difference between the mindfulness intervention group and the active control program in EFs. The current study suggests that mindfulness intervention and active control program do not differ in their effects to EFs, although both may have positive outcomes. Further research with both active and inactive control groups is needed to map the potential benefits of similar programs for cognitive functioning.

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Series: Developmental neuropsychology
ISSN: 8756-5641
ISSN-E: 1532-6942
ISSN-L: 8756-5641
Volume: 45
Issue: 7-8
Pages: 469 - 484
DOI: 10.1080/87565641.2020.1856109
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
Funding: This study was funded by Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation and Alfred Kordelin Foundation (grant number 150307). Authors declare no conflicts of interest;Alfred Kordelinin Säätiö [150307]; Signe ja Ane Gyllenbergin Säätiö.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.