Running and Flow: Does Controlled Running Lead to Flow-States? Testing the Transient Hypofontality Theory

  • Oliver StollEmail author
  • Jan M. Pithan


This chapter presents a summary of three studies, using treadmill running in a laboratory context, measuring flow-states via self-report data. To situate the theoretical context of the studies, Dietrich’s (Conscious Cogn 12:231–256, 2003). Transient Hypofrontality Theory (THT) is outlined, to show that flow-states are theorized in this work as being as a result of a down-regulated prefrontal cortex. Also, other neuropsychological research into flow is summarized to build the justification of our three projects. Two non-experimental studies show that flow-states can be induced in a laboratory setting, using a specific workload approach on treadmill or bicycle ergometer. In the third, an experimental study, prefrontal tasks were manipulated while participants were running on a treadmill. The results show that the participants in the control condition (reacting to a visual stimulus) reported significant higher flow-scores than in the experimental-condition (calculating numbers). Participants showed no differences in verbal ability between the conditions. Individuals in the experimental condition showed a decreasing running pace on the treadmill compared to the control-group. The results indicated that down-regulated prefrontal cortex activity could be a possible underlying mechanism of flow-states, which might support the THT.


Flow-state Transient hypofrontality theory Sportpsychology Running 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg Halle (Saale)HalleGermany

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