Article Analysis: 'Psychophysiology of Flow During Piano Playing'

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The article by Manzano et al, "The psychophysiology of flow during piano playing" attempts to conduct empirical research to validate physiological responses to the concept of flow. Flow is the notion that there are certain exercises that people engage in which are so demanding and enjoyable that their attention level is lowered, and a cognitive form of expertise takes over so that they lose awareness of time and self-consciousness while achieving a high degree of proficiency at that activity. The flow state is defined within the article as one which combines a high state of arousal with a positive valence (Manzano et al, 2010, p. 302). The research study performed in the article involved a number of professional piano players in Scandinavia performing a favored piece numerous times in front of the researchers. After each of the five times that the piece was played, researchers would monitor various physiological aspects of the performers (including heart rate, muscle tone fluctuation, blood pressure and thoracic respiration) in order to analyze the physical effects of reaching a state of flow. It is noteworthy to mention that not all of the players reached such a state in each of the five times they played a particular piece, which attests to the inconsistent and elusive qualities of flow. The results indicated that "EMG, cardiovascular and respiratory measures were all significantly associated with self-reported flow" (Manzano et al, 2010, p. 306). As such, they were

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