Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie


How sensitive does biofeedback have to be in order to be helpful in cueing relaxation exercises?


Type of assignment:  Master

Internal or external? Internal                                                                                                

How many students possible? 2

Own data collection or existing data?  Limited own data collection

Type of research: Qualitative     

EC (10 of 30EC)? 10 or 30 EC.      


The past couple of years the university of Twente has developed (together with a number of other universities and care institutions) the Sense-IT (Derks, De Visser, Bohlmeijer, & Noordzij, 2017): a flexible app that runs on a smartwatch and can give heart rate biofeedback (when people are not involved in physical exercise) in a simple and personalized way. This could be of benefit to therapies in which the client is taught to better ‘feel their own bodily sensations’ and react appropriately. The Sense-IT actually measures a physiological signal in everyday life and could help these clients who often find it very difficult to notice changes in their bodily functions.

What we do not know is when to alert people on changes in their physiology and how this could be helpful. An obvious pathway (see also for example: is to cue relaxation exercises when physiology is more active than usual. But what is pleasant or helpful for people in relation to rises in heart rate? The Sense-IT allows for the determination of a personal baseline, after which the sensitivity of when a change is indicated can be personalized. For your thesis 3-5 people (or 13-15 for a 30 EC thesis) will wear the Sense-It for three days: one test-day to get to know the Sense-It and determine a comfortable sensitivity level, and then  two measuring days in which they live their lives and wear the Sense-IT. The Sense-IT will occasionally trigger relaxation exercises, and in addition will give unobtrusive feedback on heart rate. All participants are subsequently interviewed, and you will write a concise qualitative thesis on their personalization choices and their experience with wearing the Sense-IT. You will also write on the potential and the challenges of simple biofeedback, and relaxation exercises in everyday life.

Who are we looking for?

Enthusiastic students who are interested in the themes stress, relaxation and biofeedback.


Dr. Matthijs Noordzij


Derks, P. M. J., De Visser, T., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Noordzij, M. L. (2017). mHealth in Mental Health: How to efficiently and scientifically create an ambulatory biofeedback e-coaching app for patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 5(1), 61–92.