George Stylios (School of Textiles, Heriot Watt University, Galashiels, United Kingdom.)

International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology

ISSN: 0955-6222

Article publication date: 2 November 2015



Stylios, G. (2015), "Editorial", International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 27 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCST-09-2015-0102



Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Volume 27, Issue 6.

Textiles and the human brain

The rapid development of technical textiles enables researchers to explore the applications of SMART textiles in everyday life. SMART fabrics and clothing interact with our psychological state and influence moods and emotion. For instance, in a SMART living environment, shape memory fabrics, colour-changing dyes and flexible electronics can be integrated into new products that create colours, patterns and textures changing effects for functionality and aesthetics, which can react with our moods and feelings (Stylios, 2006).

Our brain plays the most important role in determining our being, in our understanding of our world and in our decision process. EEGs have been used in psychology to discover the relationship between brain activity with a specific behaviour, such as motor performance, mental activities, sensation, attention and perception. In the past most studies involving EEG were done for serious medical conditions. More recently they have started being used for understanding emotions and very recently they have cut across in marketing, product development and in art and design. Meixuan Chen, at the Research Centre for Flexible Materials of Heriot Watt University has been conducting pioneering research into the understanding of the effect of changes of pattern to our emotions by studying the workings of our brain using EEG measurements. A typical experiment using an EEG cap is shown in Figure 1, and an output during pattern viewing in Figure 2.

Figure 1 A typical ECG experiment during a psycho fabric

Figure 2 A EEG brain data acquisition generated in a typical experiment

This new research uses objective and empirical approaches of psychology to evaluate the emotional influence of SMART design patterns by using eight novel switchable thermo chromic patterned knitted fabrics. Different pattern-changing effects were produced by each pair. Fabric pattern pairs 1 and 2 are based on the change of the visual darkness and intensity of the pattern; Fabric pattern pairs 3 and 4 are based on the change of a symmetrical pattern and its asymmetrical counterpart. The emotional influences of each of the two patterned fabric appearances were investigated using 20 volunteers. Each participant was exposed to two patterned appearances and his/her responses were assessed by a combination of objective brain measurement (EEG brain waves data) and subjective self-rating scoring SAM scores). The two responses to the two patterned appearances were compared, so that the effects of pattern change of each psychotextile is established.

This raises questions about how our brain reacts to a design and what does it mean to different parts of the brain? Can we design to influence specific human emotions and if so how can we develop psychotextiles that can switch from one psychological state to another by their SMART function? The answers to these questions have been very revealing. An extensive part of this work will soon be featured in a new Elsevier book on SMART Textiles in a chapter with title: Psychotextiles and their interaction with the human brain.

George Stylios


Stylios, G. (2006), “Engineering textile and clothing aesthetics using shape changing materials”, Intelligent Textiles and Clothing, Vol. 54, p. 528

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