Now showing 1 - 10 of 16
  • Publication
    In praise of conscious awareness: a new framework for the investigation of 'continuous improvement' in expert athletes
    (Frontiers, 2014-07) ;
    A key postulate of traditional theories of motor skill-learning (e.g., Fitts and Posner, 1967; Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977) is that expert performance is largely automatic in nature and tends to deteriorate when the performer 'reinvests' in, or attempts to exert conscious control over, proceduralized movements (Masters and Maxwell, 2008). This postulate is challenged, however, by recent empirical evidence (e.g., Nyberg, in press; Geeves et al., 2014) which shows that conscious cognitive activity plays a key role in facilitating further improvement amongst expert sports performers and musicians – people who have already achieved elite status (Toner and Moran, in press). This evidence suggests that expert performers in motor domains (e.g., sport, music) can strategically deploy conscious attention to alternate between different modes of bodily awareness (reflective and pre-reflective) during performance. Extrapolating from this phenomenon, the current paper considers how a novel theoretical approach (adapted from Sutton et al., 2011) could help researchers to elucidate some of the cognitive mechanisms mediating continuous improvement amongst expert performers.
      172Scopus© Citations 37
  • Publication
    Doping in elite sport: linking behaviour, attitudes and psychological theory
    Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of research interest in the psychosocial factors associated with competitive athletes’ propensity to use prohibited performance-enhancing drugs. This practice is commonly known as "doping" and typically refers to athletes’ proclivity to use "illegitimate performance enhancement substances and methods" . Although the problem of doping in sport may appear to be a relatively new phenomenon, it has a surprisingly long history. For example, prohibited substances such as caffeine and cocaine were used by cyclists in a bid to enhance competitive performance as far back as the 1890s. Unfortunately, studies on doping in elite athletes are afflicted by at least two unresolved issues. First, the links between doping attitudes and doping behavior have not received sufficient research attention to date. Second, the role of psychological theory in elucidating these links has not been addressed adequately. Therefore, the purpose of the present chapter is to address these two issues.
  • Publication
    The effects of avoidant instructions on golf putting proficiency and kinematics
    Objectives. Although the effects of avoidant or negative instructions on skilled performance in sport has received little research attention, de la Pena, Murray, and Janelle (2008) reported recently that novice golfers who were instructed not to leave a putt short of a circle, overcompensated by leaving their putts significantly longer than at baseline, and vice versa. It is unclear, however, whether athletes' propensity to engage in over-compensatory behaviour is affected by their level of expertise. Design. To address this unresolved issue, the present study investigated the influence of avoidant instructions on golfers' putting stroke proficiency (i.e., as measured by an index of putting performance and the direction in which putts are missed) and on their putting stroke performance (as measured by motion analysis). Methods. 14 high-skilled and 14 low-skilled golfers were required to putt from a distance of 2.5 m on a sloped surface which caused the ball to move left-to-right as it approached the hole. All participants performed in a condition in which they were given no instructions and in a condition in which they were instructed not to miss a putt in a specific direction (i.e., left or right of the hole). Results. High-skilled golfers' overall putting proficiency was unaffected by avoidant instructions. In contrast, low-skilled golfers' performance was significantly degraded due to disruption of certain kinematic features of their putting stroke (e.g., putter path and forward-swing times).
      797Scopus© Citations 14
  • Publication
    Imagining is not doing but involves specific motor commands: A review of experimental data related to motor inhibition
    There is now compelling evidence that motor imagery (MI) and actual movement share common neural substrate. However, the question of how MI inhibits the transmission of motor commands into the efferent pathways in order to prevent any movement is largely unresolved. Similarly, little is known about the nature of the electromyographic activity that is apparent during MI. In addressing these gaps in the literature, the present paper argues that MI includes motor execution commands for muscle contractions which are blocked at some level of the motor system by inhibitory mechanisms. We first assemble data from neuroimaging studies that demonstrate that the neural networks mediating MI and motor performance are not totally overlapping, thereby highlighting potential differences between MI and actual motor execution. We then review MI data indicating the presence of subliminal muscular activity reflecting the intrinsic characteristics of the motor command as well as increased corticomotor excitability. The third section not only considers the inhibitory mechanisms involved during MI but also examines how the brain resolves the problem of issuing the motor command for action while supervising motor inhibition when people engage in voluntary movement during MI. The last part of the paper draws on imagery research in clinical contexts to suggest that some patients move while imagining an action, although they are not aware of such movements. In particular, experimental data from amputees as well as from patients with Parkinson’s disease are discussed. We also review recent studies based on comparing brain activity in tetraplegic patients with that from healthy matched controls that provide insights into inhibitory processes during MI. We conclude by arguing that based on available evidence, a multifactorial explanation of motor inhibition during MI is warranted.
      493Scopus© Citations 156
  • Publication
    Functional equivalence or behavioural matching? A critical reflection on 15 years of research using the PETTLEP model of motor imagery
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2012-10-02) ; ; ;
    Motor imagery, or the mental rehearsal of actions in the absence of physical movement, is an increasingly popular construct in fields such as neuroscience, cognitive psychology and sport psychology. Unfortunately, few models of motor imagery have been postulated to date. Nevertheless, based on the hypothesis of functional equivalence between imagery, perception and motor execution, Holmes and Collins in 2001 developed the PETTLEP model of motor imagery in an effort to provide evidence-based guidelines for imagery practice in sport psychology. Given recent advances in theoretical understanding of functional equivalence, however, it is important to provide a contemporary critical reflection on motor imagery research conducted using this model. The present article addresses this objective. We begin by explaining the background to the development of the PETTLEP model. Next, we evaluate key issues and findings in PETTLEP-inspired research. Finally, we offer suggestions for, and new directions in, research in this field.
      4082Scopus© Citations 55
  • Publication
    The practice of applied sport, exercise, and performance psychology: Irish and international perspectives
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2014) ;
    As Chapter 1 has shown, considerable disagreement exists about the boundaries between the fields of sport, exercise, and performance psychology (SEPP). Given this background of uncertainty, the present chapter will focus on establishing some common ground between these disciplines. More precisely, it will investigate Irish and international perspectives on the key skills required by effective SEPP practitioners to help people to do their best when it matters most. We have organized the chapter as follows. To begin with, we shall trace the formal emergence of SEPP in Ireland and explain the practical requirements that applied sport psychology practitioners must satisfy in order to receive accreditation from the relevant national regulating authority—namely, the Irish Sports Council. Next, adopting an international perspective, we analyze the results of interviews with four experienced performance psychology specialists on the lessons that they have learned to date from their professional practice. These specialists were drawn from four different locations: Ireland, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, and Australia. In the final section of the chapter, we identify some key current challenges facing practitioners in sport psychology and performance psychology in Ireland.
  • Publication
    The Computational Metaphor and Cognitive Psychology
    (Taylor & Francis, 1989-10) ;
    The past three decades have witnessed a remarkable growth of research interest in the mind. This trend has been acclaimed as the ‘cognitive revolution’ in psychology. At the heart of this revolution lies the claim that the mind is a computational system. The purpose of this paper is both to elucidate this claim and to evaluate its implications for cognitive psychology. The nature and scope of cognitive psychology and cognitive science are outlined, the principal assumptions underlying the information processing approach to cognition are summarised and the nature of artificial intelligence and its relationship to cognitive science are explored. The ‘computational metaphor’ of mind is examined and both the theoretical and methodological issues which it raises for cognitive psychology are considered. Finally, the nature and significance of ‘connectionism’— the latest paradigm in cognitive science—are briefly reviewed.
      979Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    An emerging paradigm: A strength-based approach to exploring mental imagery
    (Frontiers Research Foundation, 2013-04-01) ; ; ;
    Mental imagery, or the ability to simulate in the mind information that is not currently perceived by the senses, has attracted considerable research interest in psychology since the early 1970's. Within the past two decades, research in this field—as in cognitive psychology more generally—has been dominated by neuroscientific methods that typically involve comparisons between imagery performance of participants from clinical populations with those who exhibit apparently normal cognitive functioning. Although this approach has been valuable in identifying key neural substrates of visual imagery, it has been less successful in understanding the possible mechanisms underlying another simulation process, namely, motor imagery or the mental rehearsal of actions without engaging in the actual movements involved. In order to address this oversight, a “strength-based” approach has been postulated which is concerned with understanding those on the high ability end of the imagery performance spectrum. Guided by the expert performance approach and principles of ecological validity, converging methods have the potential to enable imagery researchers to investigate the neural “signature” of elite performers, for example. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explain the origin, nature, and implications of the strength-based approach to mental imagery. Following a brief explanation of the background to this latter approach, we highlight some important theoretical advances yielded by recent research on mental practice, mental travel, and meta-imagery processes in expert athletes and dancers. Next, we consider the methodological implications of using a strength-based approach to investigate imagery processes. The implications for the field of motor cognition are outlined and specific research questions, in dynamic imagery, imagery perspective, measurement, multi-sensory imagery, and metacognition that may benefit from this approach in the future are sketched briefly.
      478Scopus© Citations 25
  • Publication
    There is more to green reading than meets the eye! Exploring the gaze behaviours of expert golfers on a virtual golf putting task
    (Springer, 2014-08) ;
    Gaze patterns and verbal reports of golfers at three skill levels (professional, elite amateur and club) were recorded as they read the slope of a virtual golf green from six different positions. The results showed that the professional golfers used a more economical gaze pattern consisting of fewer fixations of longer duration than the amateur and club players. Gaze pattern was accompanied by verbal reports that were not significantly more accurate in terms of aiming accuracy, although the professionals were accurate on 76.5 % of putts compared to 57.1 % for the elite and club groups. Two read positions lead to more accurate predictions by the professional golfers only, suggesting distinctive periods of visual perceptual–cognitive attention may underly higher levels of putting skill. Theoretical implications of these results are discussed in relation to the application of visual attention theory to practise, as well as suggestions provided for further research.
      1510Scopus© Citations 15