Semertzidis says people not only passively relaxed into the experience but creatively interacted with it too.
“Some of them reported really going on a journey by manipulating the system with their minds,” he says.
“This is no trivial notion in the context of inducing positive pre-sleep states, as it has been well documented that creative expression is strongly associated with positive effects on emotion and affect.”
Another prevalent theme from the 12 user interviews was cognitive states consistent with those of mindfulness.
“This was often voiced as a redirection of thought away from life stressors and toward the present experience as a result of the system's neurofeedback reactivity,” he says.
Semertzidis’ supervisor and co-author on the paper, Associate Professor Fabio Zambetta, said while the system itself was not the answer to healthy sleep - clinical interventions would require larger samples and control groups, and technology would need to be explored that was less invasive during sleep – it presented a fascinating case study.
“Our findings are really significant in pointing a possible way forward using neurofeedback technology to facilitate restfulness and sleep onset,” Zambettasaid.
Semertzidis’ co-supervisor Professor Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, who heads RMIT University’s Exertion Games Lab, said the project demonstrated how art and science can complement each other in novel approaches to address old problems.
"The work really puts the human body centre stage, allowing us to see the human body not just as a mere input controller, but rather allowing people to experience their bodies as play," Mueller said.
"For me, this is a beginning to facilitate a more playful future, in particular, one where we can even experience rest and ultimately sleep as a form of (digital) play: it would be fascinating to explore what such a future could look like and we are always looking for PhD candidates who want to explore this.“
PluginHUMAN are creators-in-residence at the RMIT University’s Exertion Games Lab.
Story: Michael Quin