Scientists observe the brains of test persons while wearing tight clothing—and significant differences appear in terms of alertness.
In a pilot study on the neurophysiological perception of textiles on the skin, scientists at the Hohenstein Institute and at Neuromarketing Labs investigated thinking processes while test persons wear business underwear: the test winner was from German manufacturer 99°F.
Ideally, textiles should not be consciously perceived while they are worn, so that we are left unaffected by our clothing. However, clothing design, the quality of materials and the seams of textiles can demand more attention from the brain than one would like during a working day. People who have to wear corporate identity (CI) clothing can tell a thing or two about constantly rubbing or scratching labels or seams and blouses that are too tight. The SOFIA study, which took an EEG brain scan of 24 test subjects while they were wearing business underwear, has now demonstrated the significant impact of tight textiles on our capacity to think.
The unique study compared three different materials: linen as control, a premium double-rib product made of cotton, and a newly developed business undershirt made by 99°F. All the test materials were initially put through a friction test, since the friction of textiles on human skin can provide important information about the perception of textiles. The friction test showed significant differences between 99°F and the premium double-rib product. Without being able to see the different textiles (blind study), the materials were moved on the hand and underarm of test subjects using the special textile applicator SOFIA. Contact pressure and application speed were chosen in accordance to how underwear typically moves on the skin.
Scientists simultaneously recorded the electrical activity of the brain using a 64-channel EEG. Different sounds were played in parallel to the measurements. The brain’s reaction to these sounds allowed the determination of how the tight contact with the material distracts the participants in the study. The investigators used a brain response that has been utilized in a number of well-substantiated studies so that they could avoid questionnaires which otherwise are typical of such studies with test persons. Therefore they were able to generate strictly objective data.
The results were more than surprising: The EEG brain scans showed that all test subjects had far lower mental reserves when linen or the double-rib product was applied. Applying the 99°F business undershirt, in contrast, the brain’s response was significantly stronger. The 99°F business undershirt distracted the test person less than the cotton premium brand and left more room in the brain for other thinking processes and alertness.
The results of the study are currently being prepared for publication in an international scientific journal.