Goal Management Training and Mindfulness Meditation improve executive functions and transfer to ecological tasks of daily life in polysubstance users enrolled in therapeutic community treatment

Carlos Valls-Serrano, Alfonso Caracuel, Antonio Verdejo-Garcia

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Background We have previously shown that Goal Management Training + Mindfulness Meditation (GMT + MM) improves executive functions in polysubstance users enrolled in outpatient treatment. The aim of this study was to establish if GMT + MM has similar positive effects on executive functions in polysubstance users in residential treatment, and if executive functions’ gains transfer to more ecologically valid goal-oriented tasks. Methods Thirty-two polysbustance users were randomly allocated to eight weeks of GMT + MM (n = 16) or control, i.e., no-intervention (n = 16); both groups received treatment as usual. Outcome measures included performance in laboratory tasks of basic and complex executive functions (i.e., basic: working memory and inhibition; complex: planning and self-regulation) and in an ecological task of goal-directed behavior (the Multiple Errands Test − contextualized version, MET-CV) measured post-interventions. Results Results showed that GMT + MM was superior to control in improving basic measures of working memory (Letter-number sequencing; F = 4.516, p = 0.049) and reflection impulsivity (Information Sampling Test; F = 6.217, p = 0.018), along with initial thinking times during planning (Zoo Map Test; F = 8.143, p = 0.008). In addition, GMT + MM was superior to control in improving performance in the MET-CV (task failures; F = 8.485, p = 0.007). Conclusion Our findings demonstrate that GMT + MM increases reflective processes and the achievement of goals in daily activities, furthermore ecological test can detects changes easily than laboratory tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Executive functions
  • Goal Management Training
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Multiple errands test
  • Polysbustance abuse

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