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Although neural visual processes play a crucial role in sport, experiments have been restricted to laboratory conditions lacking ecological validity. Therefore, this study examined the feasibility of measuring visual evoked potentials in a sport-specific visuomotor task. A total of 18 international elite young table tennis athletes (mean age 12.5 years) performed a computer-based and a sport-specific visuomotor reaction task in response to radial motion-onset stimuli on a computer screen and table tennis balls played by a ball machine, respectively. A 64-channel electroencephalography system identified the N2 and N2-r motion-onset visual evoked potentials in the motion-sensitive midtemporal visual area. Visual evoked potential amplitudes were highly correlated between conditions (N2 r = .72, N2-r r = .74) although significantly lower in the sport-specific task than in the lab-based task (N2 p < .001, N2-r p < .001). The results suggest that sport-specific visual stimulation is feasible to evoke visual potentials. This emphasizes the investigation of visual processes under more ecologically valid conditions in sport and exercise science.
Hülsdünker and Mierau are with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, LUNEX International University of Health, Exercise and Sports, Differdange, Luxembourg. Ostermann is with the Fédération Luxemburgeoise de Tennis du Table, Strassen, Luxembourg, and China Table Tennis College Europe, Strassen, Luxembourg. Mierau is also with the Inst. of Movement and Neurosciences, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.