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Stress and neurocognitive efficiency in managerial contexts: A study on technology-mediated mindfulness practice

Davide Crivelli (Department of Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy) (Research Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy)
Giulia Fronda (Department of Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy) (Research Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy)
Irene Venturella (Department of Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy) (Research Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy)
Michela Balconi (Department of Psychology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy) (Research Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 12 February 2019

607

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test the potential of an innovative technology-mediated mental training protocol for the empowerment of stress management and neurocognitive efficiency in highly stressful professional contexts, with people who occupy top management positions. The innovative protocol specifically combines mindfulness practice and a wearable neurofeedback system managed via smartphone.

Design/methodology/approach

The longitudinal research included pre- and post-training assessment steps in order to test training effects with respect to subjective level and physiological markers of stress, anxiety and mood profiles, cognitive abilities and markers of neurocognitive efficiency.

Findings

Results showed decreased stress, anxiety, anger and mental fatigue; increased participants’ information-processing efficiency; increased electrophysiological markers concerning the balance and reactivity of the mind-brain system; and improved physiological markers of vagal tone.

Research limitations/implications

Though further investigation and replication with larger samples would strengthen present findings, the authors suggest that observed outcomes, together with the limited duration of the overall protocol and of daily practices, make the training a potentially valuable tool especially for people whose professional position imposes time limitations and elevated job duties, thus increasing the risk of drop-out from traditional stress management programs.

Originality/value

The combination of mindfulness-based mental training with the advantages offered by a novel brain-sensing wearable technology allows for overcoming the weak points of traditional approaches (e.g. notable time expense) and optimizing training opportunities and outcomes. Furthermore, this is, to the authors’ best knowledge, the first systematic report of the application of such methodology in an organization and with top management professionals.

Keywords

Citation

Crivelli, D., Fronda, G., Venturella, I. and Balconi, M. (2019), "Stress and neurocognitive efficiency in managerial contexts: A study on technology-mediated mindfulness practice", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 42-56. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-07-2018-0095

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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