Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Santa Barbara

Examining Network Connectivity Patterns in Response to ‘Flow’: An fMRI Replication Study with Implications for the Synchronization Theory of Flow


The need to develop a robust neurological measure of flow increases as the practical applications of flow become more apparent within the broader communication literature. The Synchronization Theory of Flow (Sync Theory; Weber et al., 2009) offers a neurological perspective of the ‘flow’ state (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), hypothesizing that flow co-occurs with the synchronization of specific attention and reward networks in the brain. As a small step towards better understanding the neurological correlates of flow within the attentional network, we attempt to replicate Weber et al. (2018) using a sample size with increased power. The results from this study emphasize three primary findings that altogether have implications for Sync Theory and our understanding of the neurological basis of flow. First, Weber’s original distraction measure is shown to be a better indicator of flow compared to reaction time measures. Second, functional connectivity between attentional regions is nonlinearly dependent on distraction. Third, Sync Theory’s predictions are demonstrated across some attentional regions, but not others. Results from this study are used to supplement our understanding of the neurological correlates of flow, extend the findings from Weber et al (2018), and comment on the current state of Sync Theory.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View