Mindful silence produces long lasting attentional performance in children

  • Rita Berto Facoltà di Filosofia, Pedagogia e Psicologia, Università degli studi di Verona, Verona
  • Giuseppe Barbiero Laboratorio di Ecologia Affettiva, Dipartimento di Scienze Umane e Sociali, Università della Valle d’Aosta, Aosta; IRIS, Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Sustainability, Università degli studi di Torino


Biophilia is affected by the ability to focus on natural stimuli effortlessly, actually to be fascinated by Nature. Exposure to natural environments allows one's directed attention to rest and to restore from a state of mental fatigue. As we have reliably demonstrated in a precedent study (Visions for Sustainability 1, 31-38) mindfulness meditation is an effective intervention that improves children sustained attention through Active Silence Training (AST), a mindfulness-based educational proposal specifically tailored for children of primary school age. The AST is made up of Cooperative Play and Mindful Silence, namely activities to engage children’s involuntary attention. This study investigated which component of AST (i.e. Cooperative Play or Mindful Silence) was more effective in improving children’s attention. In a mixed research study 72 children (9-11 years) of a primary school in Aosta (Italy) were randomly assigned to one of three different training: i) Mindful Silence only, ii) Cooperative Play only, iii) both Cooperative Play and Mindful Silence, the original AST. At four time-points, sustained attention and physiological parameters were assessed. Results didn’t show any change in physiological parameters whereas it emerged that Mindful Silence training alone produced greater and longer-lasting improvements in children’s sustained attention than Cooperative Play or Play and Silence; Cooperative Play produced immediate but short-lasting changes. Mindful Silence training was identified as being able to improve children attentional capacities and an effective tool for stimulating biophilia.
Original Papers