In research at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, researchers are using the LifeShirt® system by VivoMetrics, Inc. to assess how mood may affect the physiologic performance of athletes. The LifeShirt is an ambulatory system to monitor cardiac, pulmonary and other physiologic functions over time. It has been used to accurately measure cough in COPD patients (.pdf), perform home pediatric sleep studies (.pdf), and in research into pathology as varied as breast cancer and bipolar disease.
In the Saint Anselm study:
A total of 23 participants, including 17 college varsity athletes wore the LifeShirt in a virtual reality scenario. The virtual environment included a headset which projected a visual representation of a running track while the athlete ran on an elliptical machine. When participants started running on a virtual track and reached a 60-70% maximum heart rate on the third lap, a virtual competitor appeared on the track stimulating a self reported frustration as the athlete was required not to increase work load, rather let the competitor stay ahead of them on the track. The LifeShirt was then used to record variations in heart rate and respiration, known as additional heart rate, to determine how competitors may affect the physiological responding of an athlete who self reports frustration during competition. “Previously clinical researchers used physiological monitoring equipment to monitor mood assessment and performance but the equipment limited participants to a sedentary position,” said Dr. Finn PhD, a key researcher in the study and professor of Psychology at Saint Anselm College. “With the LifeShirt, for the first time, we can monitor how positive or negative stimuli affect the athlete as he performs.”