Intense Physical Exercise Reduces Overt Attentional Capture

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

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Francesc LlorensUniversidad Católica de Valencia
Universidad Internacional Valenciana

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Daniel SanabriaUniversity of Granada

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Florentino HuertasUniversidad Católica de Valencia

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Enrique MolinaUniversity of Granada

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Simon BennettLiverpool John Moores University

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The abrupt onset of a visual stimulus typically results in overt attentional capture, which can be quantified by saccadic eye movements. Here, we tested whether attentional capture following onset of task-irrelevant visual stimuli (new object) is reduced after a bout of intense physical exercise. A group of participants performed a visual search task in two different activity conditions: rest, without any prior effort, and effort, immediately after an acute bout of intense exercise. The results showed that participants exhibited (1) slower reaction time of the first saccade toward the target when a new object was simultaneously presented in the visual field, but only in the rest activity condition, and (2) more saccades to the new object in the rest activity condition than in the effort activity condition. We suggest that immediately after an acute bout of effort, participants improved their ability to inhibit irrelevant (distracting) stimuli.

Francesc Llorens is with the Departamento de Gestión y Ciencias Aplicadas a la Actividad Física, Universidad Católica de Valencia, Valencia, and with the Universidad Internacional Valenciana, Valencia, Spain. Daniel Sanabria is with the Mind, Brain & Behavior Research Center, University of Granada, Granada, Spain. Florentino Huertas is with the Departamento de Gestión y Ciencias Aplicadas a la Actividad Física, Universidad Católica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain. Enrique Molina is with the Mind, Brain & Behavior Research Center, University of Granada, Granada, Spain. Simon Bennett is with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University. Liverpool, UK.

Address author correspondence to Francesc Llorens Martínez at franllorensm@gmail.com.
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