Sports-related concussions are complex injuries with biomechanical and biochemical etiology that present with central and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Current methods for assessing concussions and basing return-to-play decisions rely on symptom resolution, rating scales, and neuropsychological testing, all of which are indirect measures of injury severity and detect functional capabilities but do not directly measure injury location or severity. In addition, these downstream measures are susceptible to false negatives because compensatory mechanism, such as unmasking and redundancies in brain circuitry can return functional capabilities before injury resolution. The multifactorial nature of concussion necessitates rapid, inexpensive, and easily applied multimodal analysis methods that can offer greater sensitivity and specificity. This article discusses how new approaches utilizing electrophysiology (e.g., QEEG, ERP, ECG, HRV), quantified balance measures, and biochemistry are necessary to advance the science of concussion assessment, treatment, recovery projections, and return-to-play decisions. These additional assessment tools offer a more direct window into the severity and location of the injury, real-time measures of brain function, and the ability to measure the multiple body systems negatively affected by concussion.
James W.G. Thompson and David Hagedorn
Henry Davis IV, Sari M. van Anders, Elton T. Ngan, Todd S. Woodward, Jared X. Van Snellenberg, Helen S. Mayberg, and Mario Liotti
In this follow-up study, self-referential videos of success and failure were used for mood provocation to investigate mood, neural, and endocrine activity among 26 internationally competitive athletes using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and salivary hormone measures. The initial sample of 14 athletes who had experienced career-threatening failure was contrasted to 12 athletes with exceptional success. Endocrine data were added to the preliminary report to round
Jocelyn Faubert and Lee Sidebottom
This present article discusses an approach to training high-level athletes’ perceptual-cognitive skills. The intention herein is to (a) introduce concepts in regard to what may be required by athletes to optimally process sports-related visual scenes at the perceptual-cognitive level; (b) present an experimental method of how it may be possible to train this capacity in athletes while discussing the necessary features for a successful perceptual-cognitive training outcome; and (c) propose that this capacity may be trainable even among the highest-level athletes. An important suggestion is that a simple difference between sitting and standing testing conditions may strongly influence speed thresholds with this task, which is analogous to game movement dynamics in sports, indicating shared resources between such high-level perceptual-cognitive demands and mechanisms involved in posture control. A discussion follows emphasizing how a perceptual-cognitive training approach may be useful as an integral component of athletic training. The article concludes with possible future directions.
While clinical psychology has embraced the importance of psychophysiology and neuroscience when considering the client condition, the field of sport psychology has been slower to consider the potential importance of this area for athletic clientele. Therefore, this special issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology was conceptualized and constructed to describe the current state of psychophysiological and neuroscience research and illustrate how clinical sport psychologists may, in the future, use technologies such as biofeedback/neurofeedback and physiological measurement (EMG, EEG, skin temperature, EDR, HR, HRV, respiration, and hormonal responses) with high-level athletes from a variety of sports for both performance enhancement and diagnosis and management of head injury. As Guest Editor of this unique special issue, I have written the present introduction to highlight the issue’s important mission. This introductory paper sets the stage for five informative and cutting-edge articles by leading professionals. In all, the articles cover an array of topics on psychophysiology and neuroscience in sport, such as (a) the theoretical underpinnings of biofeedback/neurofeedback, (b) the empirical application of such approaches, (c) the current state of efficacy with regard to this newer line of research and practice, and (d) the use of fMRI in understanding psychological processes in sport. I hope that this timely special issue provokes many additional questions and advanced research in our collective pursuit to assist athletes.
Lindsay Shaw, Leonard Zaichkowsky, and Vietta Wilson
The present paper evaluated the efficacy of a biofeedback/neurofeedback training program to create an optimal preperformance state to improve gymnasts’ balance beam performance in competition. Training to increase heart rate variability (HRV) and sensorimotor rhythm while inhibiting theta was provided to 11 Division I gymnasts in 10 15-min sessions. Results of this uncontrolled study indicated that competition scores and scores from an independently judged video assessment improved throughout the training, beta decreased from preto postassessment, and there were no changes in HRV, sensorimotor rhythm, or theta. The withdrawal of training resulted in a decline of competition scores.
Frank L. Gardner
Consistent with the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology’s mission, the current special issue on psychophysiology and neuroscience in sport has brought together a variety of timely papers exploring the relationship between physiological processes and both sport performance and personal well-being. These final thoughts observe patterns noted among the papers in this issue, highlight future research directions, and most importantly, clarify where this emerging technology and its associated procedures currently stand in the evidence-based practice of clinical sport psychology.