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Posture biofeedback increases cognitive load


Attention may be important for actively maintaining posture during computer tasks, resulting in a dual-task tradeoff, where maintaining posture through extrinsic feedback imposes cognitive load. Mindfulness may make intrinsic postural feedback (which imposes less cognitive load) more available. Therefore, we hypothesized that the use of biofeedback would improve posture and negatively impact game performance; additionally, higher levels of mindfulness would be associated with lower game performance costs in the biofeedback condition. Healthy young adult participants played a challenging computer game for 10 min with and without neck length biofeedback, in a counterbalanced repeated-measures design. For each condition, we assessed posture using neck shrinkage (percentage of best), and task performance (computer game score). Neck length was better retained and game performance was worse with biofeedback than without, consistent with the hypothesis that posture biofeedback imposed a cognitive load. In addition, participants with the most neck shrinkage suffered the greatest performance decrements from using biofeedback, and neck length retention during the task without biofeedback was associated with lower self-reported daily neck pain and higher self-reported mindfulness. Thus, those with the greatest need for postural feedback suffer the greatest performance decrements from extrinsic feedback. The results are consistent with the idea that mindfulness enables people to use intrinsic feedback to maintain posture without imposing a dual-task cost.

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Data availability

Data collected for this study and the associated pilot testing are available by request through the corresponding author and Mind in Movement Lab at the University of Idaho.

Code availability

Proprietary software and hardware provided by Innsport for use with The Motion Monitor system was used to collect data. Additional custom code used to collect data via 3-dimensional motion capture, and Matlab code used for data analysis is available by request through the corresponding author and Mind in Movement Lab at the University of Idaho.


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We thank the Mind in Movement Lab team members (Addison Johnson, Brittanee West, Emily Botterbusch, Jordan Becker, Makayla Sundquist, Wilson Trusty, Skylar Soelberg, and Daniel Kral) for help with data collection. Funding for this research was provided through a seed grant from the University of Idaho.


Funding for this study was provided to Mind in Movement Lab by the University of Idaho seed grant.

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Correspondence to Jason L. Baer.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The experiment and pilot data published herein have been approved by the University of Idaho IRB. The procedures used in this study adhere to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

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All participants provided written informed consent, and received course credit for a two-hour data collection session.

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All participants provided consent to publish data and images associated with the study when agreeing to participate in this study.

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Baer, J.L., Vasavada, A. & Cohen, R.G. Posture biofeedback increases cognitive load. Psychological Research 86, 1892–1903 (2022).

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