Now showing 1 - 10 of 16
  • Publication
    Thinking in action: Some insights from cognitive sport psychology
    (Elsevier, 2012-08)
    Historically, cognitive researchers have largely ignored the domain of sport in their quest to understand how the mind works. This neglect is due, in part, to the limitations of the information processing paradigm that dominated cognitive psychology in its formative years. With the emergence of the embodiment approach to cognition, however, sport has become a dynamic natural laboratory in which to investigate the relationship between thinking and skilled action. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore some insights into the relationship between thinking and action that have emerged from recent research on exceptional performance states (e.g., ‘flow’ and ‘choking’) in athletes. The paper begins by explaining why cognitive psychologists’ traditional indifference to sport has been replaced by a more enthusiastic attitude in recent years. The next section provides some insights into the relationship between thinking and skilled action that have emerged from research on ‘flow’ (or peak performance) and ‘choking’ (or impaired performance) experiences in athletes. The third section of the paper explores some practical issues that arise when athletes seek to exert conscious control over their thoughts in competitive situations. The final part of the paper considers the implications of research on thinking in action in sport for practical attempts to improve thinking skills in domains such as business organizations and schools.
      3366Scopus© Citations 40
  • 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
    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.
      210Scopus© Citations 42
  • 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.
      1375Scopus© Citations 6
  • Publication
    Defining elite athletes: issues in the study of expert performance in sport psychology
    Objectives: There has been considerable inconsistency and confusion in the definition of elite/expert athletes in sport psychology research, which has implications for studies conducted in this area and for the field as a whole. This study aimed to: (i) critically evaluate the ways in which recent research in sport psychology has defined elite/expert athletes; (ii) explore the rationale for using such athletes; and (iii) evaluate the conclusions that research in this field draws about the nature of expertise. Design: Conventional systematic review principles were employed to conduct a rigorous search and synthesise findings. Methods: A comprehensive literature search of SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES and Academic Search Complete was completed in September, 2013 which yielded 91 empirical studies published between 2010 and 2013. The primarily qualitative findings were analysed thematically. Results: Eight ways of defining elite/expert athletes were identified, ranging from Olympic champions to regional level competitors and those with as little as two years of experience in their sport. Three types of rationale were evident in these studies (i.e., 'necessity', 'exploratory' and 'superior'); while findings also indicated that some elite athletes are psychologically idiosyncratic and perhaps even dysfunctional in their behaviour. Finally, only 19 of the 91 included studies provided conclusions about the nature of expertise in sport. Conclusions: This study suggests that the definitions of elite athletes vary on a continuum of validity, and the findings are translated into a taxonomy for classifying expert samples in sport psychology research in future. Recommendations are provided for researchers in this area.
      2767Scopus© Citations 600
  • 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.
      553Scopus© Citations 176
  • Publication
    Motor Imagery in Clinical Disorders: Importance and Implications
    One of our most remarkable mental capacities is the ability to use our imagination voluntarily to mimic or simulate sensations, actions, and other experiences. For example, we can "see" things in our mind’s eye, "hear" sounds in our mind’s ear, and imagine motor experiences like running away from, or perhaps "freezing" in the face of, danger. Since the early 1900s, researchers have investigated "mental imagery" or the multimodal cognitive simulation process by which we represent perceptual information in our minds in the absence of sensory input.
      375Scopus© Citations 11
  • 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.
      642Scopus© Citations 29
  • 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).
      860Scopus© Citations 15