Since Csikszentmihalyi identified the psychological experience of flow over 40 years ago, the experiences have been heralded as the optimum human function and prescriptive to high levels of well-being and quality of life. Csikszentmihalyi theorized that flow represented an autonomous reality that represented an altered state unlike any other human experience. Flow states emerged from intrinsically motivated behavior that represented a fragile balance between the level of enjoyment from novel task stimulation and a sense of self-efficacy required to meet the specific task demands. However, flow is not well understood and research is skewed toward to phenomenological investigations that described the nature of the experience and many of the significant variables of interest across a diverse range of activities. The lack of experimental exploration of flow has created fundamental research gaps. The general problem is that flow is predictive and related to positive psychological outcomes; however, current assessment methodologies and research have not provided the functional neuroanatomy involved. The purpose of this quantitative experimental study was to examine the hypofrontality theory that a flow state occurs concurrently with decreased cognitive activation in the frontal cortex (hypofrontality) during the flow phenomena. Participants consisted of expert piano players that were assessed for changes in alpha activity in the frontal cortex during a flow and non-flow condition. Results from the paired samples paired t-test conducted revealed there were statistically significant differences in alpha power in the experimental conditions (DV) versus the control conditions (IV; M = 93, SD = 105, N = 14), t(13) = 3.29, p = .006. These results supported the main hypothesis that there is increased alpha power in the frontal cortex during flow states. This finding provides the first empirically validated biomarker for a flow. These results will assist future research to understand flow experiences as a conceptually unambiguous variable.
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Experimental psychology|
|Keywords:||Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, Hypofrontality, Intrinsic motivation, Positive psychology|
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