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Physiological Correlates of the “Flow” Experience: EEG Measures of Attentional State
Tay, Tong 2016 Physiological Correlates of the “Flow” Experience - EEG Measures of Attentional State.pdf
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The Flow state is a psychological phenomenon that appears in athletes and other who are performing. The psychological state is known as a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else matters (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). It is described as allowing athletes have an extraordinary sport experience with increased focus, heightened energy, changes in visual and auditory perception, increased awareness, and other psychological and physiological changes (Alessi, 1994). These changes typically allow an athlete to play at a higher personal level. As a means to explore the underlying neural substrate for the phenomenon, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to observe beta wave activity in subjects that had previous competitive athletic experiences. They also performed a visual task involving multifocal attentional allocation. The data were compared between subjects that have already experienced the Flow state within their athletic career and those that have not. Analysis of the data was done with the assistance of a MatLab code and t-test and p-value revealed a statistically significant difference in beta wave activity between the two groups. These results suggest that there are inherent neural activity differences during attentionally demanding tasks which may allow some athletes to enter the Flow state.