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I've found that my typing performance (speed, accuracy, flow) are noticeably improved if I am swaying slightly, mostly side to side, in a non-regular manner. I would estimate that the overall movement side to side is less than an inch.

This occurs for all typing tasks, and surprisingly also affects my piano-playing performance. It is not necessary to be listening to music (though it can help), and only sometimes does the movement correspond to the actual typing itself. I also find that if mistakes are made, this movement is disrupted, and that consciously re-starting the movement helps restore the induced state.

What could account for this effect?

I would personally suspect that it's acts to induce a sort of 'flow' state, but I'd like to know if this has been studied or even noticed elsewhere...

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I think it's fine, it's not really self-help as much as a phenomenon that you first noticed in yourself. –  Chuck Sherrington Aug 8 '13 at 19:18
    
(see if those tags are okay, if not feel free to modify) –  Chuck Sherrington Aug 8 '13 at 19:20
    
@ChuckSherrington - thanks, that's a good way to put it. And thanks for improving the tags! I strongly suspect that I'm artificially inducing flow in myself, but I'm more curious how/why this occurs. –  BenCole Aug 8 '13 at 19:21
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It's not something you'd likely go see a clinician for (well, it'd be a unique appointment if you did) –  Chuck Sherrington Aug 8 '13 at 19:23
    
nice question, myself i also play piano, and I do the exact same thing when I'm into the music, It realy tunes you with the music and it's like your floating along with the music wave flow, like floating with a boat in sea waves :D –  Enoque Duarte Aug 9 '13 at 14:24

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I personaly also play piano and see myself into that flow easly,

Check out what I just found

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does

(...)

Components of flow

Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow.

  1. intense and focused concentration on the present moment merging of action and awareness

  2. a loss of reflective self-consciousness

  3. a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity

  4. a distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered

  5. experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience

(...)

Check this out:

Roy Palmer suggests that "being in the zone" may also influence movement patterns as better integration of the conscious and subconscious reflex functions improves coordination.

(...)

Music

Musicians, especially improvisational soloists may experience a similar state of mind while playing their instrument. Research has shown that performers in a flow state have a heightened quality of performance as opposed to when they are not in a flow state. In a study performed with professional classical pianists who played piano pieces several times to induce a flow state, a significant relationship was found between the flow state of the pianist and the pianist’s heart rate, blood pressure, and major facial muscles. As the pianist entered the flow state, heart rate and blood pressure decreased and the major facial muscles relaxed. This study further emphasized that flow is a state of effortless attention. In spite of the effortless attention and overall relaxation of the body, the performance of the pianist during the flow state improved.

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I'm accepting this answer because it fully answers the question above. I had intended to ask for neural mechanisms that would allow for such a thing to occur, but I have pulled that into a new question: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/4108/… –  BenCole Aug 9 '13 at 15:42
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I don't think it has to do anything with flow. During my first semesters studying psychology, I had to partake in many reaction time experiments. I found that when I swayed slightly I could improve accuracy and shorten reaction time significantly. My subjective feeling was, that when I was moving, I was more "ready", because my musculature was active and "strung", and my perceptions where "sharper" or "heightened" also. When I sat still, I had to wrench myself out of this passive state first, before I could begin to move, and this takes more time, and my perception was "foggy" and less clear. –  what Aug 27 '13 at 13:53
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The "readiness" probably comes from the whole body being involved. Look at musicians in general: they move their whole bodies. This, in my opinion, is not just an effect of being involved emotionally in the music, but actually supportive of better arm, hand and finger movements as well as cognitive functioning in general. Try typing with a chewing gum, it will have the same effect, I believe. See this related question and my answer there: cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/4355/… –  what Aug 27 '13 at 14:00

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