Thesis

BioResonant interfaces : tangible, subliminal biofeedback to regulate physiological states

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Abstract

This thesis introduces BioResonant interfaces, which bidirectionally communicate with the user's body to provide information on their physiological state. This facilitates regulation of their stress levels and ultimately a more mindful daily life. Based on the principle of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and physiological synchronization, the BioResonant interface is designed to stimulate at the subconscious level using subliminal tactile biofeedback. Through this process, the user's physiological state can be aligned with their desired state. I present three different forms of the BioResonant Interface, a wearable device, a cushion, and a kinetic display, which utilize either heart rate (HR) or breathing rate (BR), or both. I present their fabrication, design, and evaluation method in the following interaction scale order: local interaction with the skin; general interaction with the body; and embodied interaction with the environment.

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One of the attractions of Gibson’s concept of ecological perception is that it seems to provide a basic awareness of the bodily self that can serve as the core of a comprehensive account of full-fledged self-consciousness in thought and action. On the ecological understanding of perception, sensitivity to self-specifying information is built into the very structure of perception in such a way that, as Gibson famously put it, all perception involves co-perception of the (bodily) self and the environment. This paper shows how Gibson’s ecological account is not itself sufficient for self-awareness, even of a primitive form, but suggests what needs to be added to it in order to yield the basic awareness of the bodily self that I term possessing a nonconceptual point of view.
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Cognitive neuroscience investigations of self-experiencehave mainly focused on the mental attribution of features to the self (self-related processing). In this paper, we highlight another fundamental ,yet neglected, aspect of self-experience, that of being an agent.We propose that this aspect of self-experience depends on self-specifying processes, ones that implicitly specify the self by implementing a functional self/non-self distinction inperception, action, cognition and emotion. We describe two paradigmatic cases – sensorimotor integration andhomeostatic regulation – and use the principles from these cases to show how cognitive control, including emotion regulation, is also self-specifying. We argue that externally directed, attention-demanding tasks, rather than suppressing self-experience, give rise to the self-experience of being a cognitive–affective agent. We conclude with directions for experimental work based onour framework.
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