Research: Sonic Cradle – Immersive interaction design combining breathing- and neurofeedback to foster focused attention meditation on breath

Illustration by D.Quesnel and © iSPace Lab, SFU

Sonic Cradle, bio and neurofeedback

M.Prpa, D.Quesnel, A.Kitson, K.Cochrane, J.Vidyarthi & B.Riecke, 2016

Results are presented at the 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome, Italy, in May 2016.

Summary: Mindfulness meditation practice is widely recognized for its psychological and physical well-being benefits. Often for novice meditators, entering and maintaining a mindful state and focusing on the present moment  is challenging. There are numerous focusing techniques that are practiced in mindfulness. Novice meditators are often guided in breathing exercises, encouraging them to breath deeply from their diaphragm.

Key Objective: To assist meditators in breathing exercises, we are designing a system that encourages deep diaphragm (abdominal) breathing by providing real-time neuro- and biofeedback generated from EEG and respiration data. Our new design builds upon “Sonic Cradle” (Vidyarthi & Riecke, First International Conference on Mindfulness 2013, International Journal Of Human-Computer Studies 2014). Sonic Cradle is an exploratory HCI paradigm designed to foster meditative attentional patterns as a user progressively shapes a soundscape with their breath. While the original design proved effective by helping users reach a state comparable to mindfulness meditation, participants reported that the soundscape occasionally distracted them from breathing mindfully. To address this, we are integrating EEG data from the Interaxon Muse headset to detect when users have achieved a state of focused attention, and gradually reduce the soundscape inconspicuously. Conversely, when EEG data reveals a state of distraction, the soundscape becomes more salient, increasing its ability to cue users back to their breath with curiosity as proved to be effective in Vidyarthi & Riecke (2013). To test the feasibility of our design hypothesis and guide future development, we conducted a mixed-methods pilot study with an emphasis on quantitative data.

Click the PDF icon to view or download the poster, and view the one-page abstract here- M. Prpa, Quesnel, D., Vidyarthi, J., Kitson, A., & Riecke, B. E. (2016, May). Sonic Cradle — Immersive inter­ac­tion design com­bin­ing breath­ing– and neu­ro­feed­back to foster focused atten­tion med­i­ta­tion on breath. Poster pre­sented at the 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Rome, Italy. Retrieved from

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