Respiratory Biofeedback Does Not Facilitate Lowering Arousal in Meditation Through Virtual Reality

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The current study examined the effectiveness of respiratory biofeedback in lowering subjective and objective arousal after stress. Participants were presented with a meditation session in virtual reality while subjective and objective arousal were measured, the latter measured through ECG and EEG. Three conditions were used: (a) a respiratory biofeedback condition, in which visual feedback was paired to breathing; (b) a control feedback placebo condition, in which visual feedback was not paired to breathing; and (c) a control no-feedback condition, in which no visual feedback was used. Subjective and objective arousal decreased during meditation after stress in all conditions, demonstrating recovery after stress during meditation in virtual reality. However, the reduction in arousal (on all outcome measures combined and heart rate specifically) was largest in the control feedback placebo condition, in which no biofeedback was used, indicating that respiratory biofeedback had no additional value in reducing arousal. The findings of the current study highlight the importance of including a control feedback placebo condition in order to establish the exact additional value of biofeedback and offer insights in applying cost-effective virtual reality meditation training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-59
JournalApplied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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