Surfing Brain Waves

Victoria Wright, Teresa Prominczel

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Aims: This study aimed to a) validate a novel experimental paradigm combining EEG and virtual reality to simulate participants' experience of surfing in the laboratory and b) quantitively assess the extent to which surfing induces mindfulness-like states. Design: A mixed 2x2 design manipulated time (pre and post-video) within-subjects, and video type (surfing vs non-surfing) between-subjects. Participants: Participants were 8 experienced surfers (average 10 years surfing experience). Method: An Oculus Quest VR headset was used to present videos and brain activity was recorded from 64-channel EEG, post-processed using FFT. Participants also completed a questionnaire regarding surfing history, extent of immersion in VR and state of mind. Results: Participants in the surfing condition demonstrated a significant reduction in theta activity between T1 and T2 that was not evident in the non-surfing condition, and participants in the surfing condition rated themselves as being significantly more relaxed at T2 than those in the non-surfing condition. A trend for reduced alpha activity between T1 and T2 was also observed in the surfing condition. Discussion: Experiencing a lab-based analogue of surfing induces mental states similar to those observed in mindfulness techniques. This may be related to the positive impact of exercising in the "blue gym" (Depledge & Bird, 2009). If this is the case, there is potential for further exploration of surfing as a tool for managing mental wellbeing, for example, through mindfulness based cognitive therapy (Gu et al., 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2020
EventBPS Cognitive Section Conference 2020 - Online
Duration: 27 Aug 202028 Aug 2020


ConferenceBPS Cognitive Section Conference 2020
Period27 Aug 202028 Aug 2020


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