When the COVID-19 pandemic began, our WELLbeing and Emotion Laboratory at Loyola University Chicago needed to suddenly stop our electroencephalography (EEG) data collection that was part of an ongoing Randomized Controlled Trial study. Our laboratory had been collaborating with Headspace to evaluate how an 8-week mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) study reduces depression and stress in college students and modifies associated neural function. In order to have the capacity to include a measure of cognitive function in our intervention study that suddenly needed to be fully administered in a remote context, we pivoted to collaborating with Neuro-UX. Our study will provide pilot data regarding how changes in cognitive function over the course of an 8-week app-based mindfulness-based intervention contributes to reducing depression symptoms. Depression and cognitive difficulties often co-occur, and cognitive function may be a critical psychological mechanism to target in order to reduce depression symptoms and boost vitality.
College students who enrolled in our study were randomized to a wait-list control group or the treatment group where they were encouraged to use Headspace for eight weeks. Study participants in both groups were evaluated three times with a brief battery of mobile cognitive tests over the course of the eight-week trial periods (baseline, midpoint, and end of study) so that we could observe changes in cognitive function during the intervention trial. This research will provide additional insights into the role of cognitive function in modifying depression outcomes in the context of mindfulness-based interventions, as well as provide important evidence regarding the feasibility of scalable methods for assessing cognitive function in daily life settings.