Put aside the various shenanigans our team got into during the 2016 Float Conference and it’s fair to say that our time in Portland was a big success. We learned a lot, and some of the coolest stuff is bringing the anecdotal things we know about floating into scientific fact.
The Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma is coming out with some of the most scientifically viable research in the Float Industry. Before we dig into the data, let’s talk about the facilities they use in order to conduct their research.
The Float Clinic at LIBR uses reverse osmosis to keep the depth of their 8-foot diameter float rooms precise. They’re able to keep their depth consistent with at most a 1-millimeter variation. They have a three stage system to keep the air a perfect temperature as well as humidity. The lights in their float rooms can be turned on or off with the wave of a hand. Using a spring layer, ground noise isolation board, and an insulation layer, they’re able to keep the noise levels in their rooms at an absolute minimum.
Okay, we had to nerd out about that for just a second. Basically, they have the most precise float experience in the world. Not only that, but LIBR is also equipped with all kinds of cool scientific gadgets and gizmos, including an fMRI machine which they are able to use for pre and post float brain scans.
One of the studies conducted at the LIBR Float Facility took a look at the Default Mode Network.
First, what is the Default Mode Network? Although there are several regions in the brain that are connected to this system, the biggest section is the functional connectivity between the Posterior Cingulate Cortex and the Medial Prefrontal Cortex.
A number of functions have been attributed to the Default Mode Network including mind-wandering, self-referential thinking (i.e. “mind chatter”), autobiographical thinking, and thinking about the past or future. It has been shown that hyper connectivity in this network can lead to depression or feelings of anxiety.
Reducing the connectivity in this network is shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression. So the question is: does floating reduce the functional connectivity in the Default Mode Network?
To find out, the researchers at LIBR made two groups:
The Control Group: Participants would sit in a Zero-Gravity Chair (The Float Chair) to account for the effects of “simple relaxation” induced by: laying supine in a comfortable environment, having minimal pressure on the spinal cord, being alone in a quiet and dark room for 90 minutes.
The Pool Group: These participants would spend their 90 minutes in the super awesome float rooms we described above.
Both groups would spend 8 minutes in the fMRI machine before and after their 90-minute session.
The participants who were in the “Pool” group showed significant drops in the functional connectivity with its primary hub in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex. The control group did not show this same drop in functional connectivity.
Even more interesting, the participants were asked to rate their feeling of “serenity” after their floats. What the researchers found was that there was a direct link between how big of a drop in functional connectivity there was and feelings of serenity. (Bigger drop=more serenity.)
We were really excited to learn about this. We’ve heard countless people tell us that floating helps them with their anxiety. We’ve even experienced it ourselves! It’s truly gratifying to see that there is research being done that scientifically proves floating works.
And the next time someone asks you why you float, all you have to do is say, “I float because it reduces the functional connectivity between my Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Posterior Cingulate Cortex leading to reduced anxiety and a feeling of serenity!”