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Manuel E. Hernandez, Erin O’Donnell, Gioella Chaparro, Roee Holtzer, Meltem Izzetoglu, Brian M. Sandroff and Robert W. Motl

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy was used to evaluate prefrontal cortex activation differences between older adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy older adults (HOA) during the performance of a balance- and attention-demanding motor task. Ten older adults with MS and 12 HOA underwent functional near-infrared spectroscopy recording while talking, virtual beam walking, or virtual beam walking while talking on a self-paced treadmill. The MS group demonstrated smaller increases in prefrontal cortex oxygenation levels than HOA during virtual beam walking while talking than talking tasks. These findings indicate a decreased ability to allocate additional attentional resources in challenging walking conditions among MS compared with HOA. This study is the first to investigate brain activation dynamics during the performance of balance- and attention-demanding motor tasks in persons with MS.

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Aaron England, Timothy Brusseau, Ryan Burns, Dirk Koester, Maria Newton and Matt Thiese

In adult performers, research suggests that mental representations (MRs) mediate performance of skilled movement. During adolescence, cortical brain areas responsible for generating MRs develop rapidly along with limb size, which, together, may affect movement and movement representations. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between adolescent MRs and free-throw shooting expertise. Using structural dimensional analysis of MRs, skilled (n = 11) and less skilled (n = 11) participants sorted free-throw submovements according to their relatedness in movement execution. Data were analyzed using a hierarchical cluster analysis, factor analysis, and invariance test to examine between-group cluster comparisons. Cluster solutions for the skilled and less skilled participants were significantly variant (λ = 0.56). This method of measuring MRs distinguished expertise-related differences in MRs in an adolescent population. Findings may influence methods in which practitioners detect motor-planning faults, track development, and provide feedback to trainees.

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Rafael L. Kons, Kai Krabben, David L. Mann, Gabriela Fischer and Daniele Detanico

In judo competition for visual impairment, athletes of different classes compete against each other in the same category; B1 athletes are totally blind, whereas B2 and B3 athletes are partially sighted. To test for potential competition disparities due a single category of athletes, this study aimed to compare competitive and technical–tactical performance in visually impaired judo athletes with different degrees of visual impairment. The authors analyzed 340 judo matches from the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games. The scores, penalties, efficiency index, and types of medals were examined, as well as the technical variation and temporal structure. The main finding was that blind judo athletes presented lower scores (p < .05; effect size [ES] = 0.43–0.73), medals (p < .05), and efficiency (p < .05; ES = 0.40–0.73); different patterns of play; and a shorter time to lose than partially sighted athletes (p = .027; ES = 0.10–0.14). However, the penalties were similar between classes (p > .05; ES = 0.07–0.14). The odds ratio of a winning medal was 3.5–8 times less in blind athletes than in partially sighted athletes (p < .01). In conclusion, blind judo athletes presented lower competitive and technical–tactical performance than athletes with some residual functional vision. These findings provide support for the development of new evidence-based criteria for judo classification based on vision impairment.

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Rachael C. Stone, Shane N. Sweet, Marie-Josée Perrier, Tara MacDonald, Kathleen A. Martin Ginis and Amy E. Latimer-Cheung

Identifying as a regular exerciser has been found to effectively alter stereotypes related to warmth and competence for adults with a physical disability; however, it remains unclear how sport participation can influence this trend. Therefore, this study aimed to examine warmth and competence perceptions of adults with a physical disability portrayed as elite and nonelite athletes relative to other athletic and nonathletic subgroups of adults with and without a physical disability in the context of the stereotype content model. Using survey data from able-bodied participants (N = 302), cluster analyses were applied to a behaviors from intergroup affect and stereotypes map for displaying the intersection of warmth and competence perceptions. The results demonstrated that adults with a physical disability who are described as elite athletes (i.e., Paralympians) are clustered with high warmth and high competence, similar to their able-bodied athletic counterparts (i.e., Olympians). The findings suggest that perceiving athletic and elite sport statuses for adults with a physical disability may counter the stereotypes commonly applied to this group.

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James W. Roberts

Investigations of visually guided target-directed movement frequently adopt measures of within-participant spatial variability to infer the contribution of planning and control. The present study aims to verify this current trend by exploring the distribution of displacements at kinematic landmarks with a view to understand the potential sources of variability. Separate sets of participants aiming under full visual feedback conditions revealed a comparatively normal distribution for the displacements at peak velocity and movement end. However, there was demonstrable positive skew in the displacement at peak acceleration and a significant negative skew at peak deceleration. The ranges of the distributions as defined by either ±1SD or ±34.13th percentile (equivalent to an estimated 68.26% of responses) also revealed differences at peak deceleration. These findings indicate that spatial variability in the acceleration domain features highly informative systematic, as well as merely inherent, sources of variability. Implications for the further quantification of trial-by-trial behavior are discussed.

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Paul E. Yeatts, Ronald Davis, Jun Oh and Gwang-Yon Hwang

Participation in physical activity has been shown to improve components of psychological well-being (i.e., affect). Programs such as the Warrior Games have been designed to promote physical activity in wounded military personnel. However, sport competition typically yields a winner and a loser (i.e., game outcome). The experience of a win or a loss may affect how wounded athletes respond to game outcome. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the affective changes (positive affect, negative affect, tranquility, and fatigue) according to game outcome in a sample of wounded military wheelchair basketball players participating in a weekend tournament. The results indicated that the participants who experienced a win reported significantly higher positive affect and tranquility and significantly lower negative affect than those experiencing a loss. These findings have important implications for wounded veteran athletes, as well as coaches and administrative personnel.

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Etem Curuk, Yunju Lee and Alexander S. Aruin

The authors investigated anticipatory postural adjustments in persons with unilateral stroke using external perturbations. Nine individuals with stroke and five control subjects participated. The electromyographic activity of 16 leg and trunk muscles was recorded. The onsets of muscle activity during the anticipatory phase of postural control were analyzed. The individuals with stroke did not show an anticipatory activation of leg and trunk muscles on the affected side; instead, the muscle onsets were seen after the perturbation, during the balance restoration phase. However, an anticipatory activation of muscles on the unaffected side was seen in individuals with stroke, and it was observed earlier compared with healthy controls (p < .05). The individuals with stroke showed a distal to proximal order of anticipatory activation of muscles on the unaffected side. The outcome of the study provides a basis for future investigations regarding ways of improving balance control in people with stroke.

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Mohsen Shafizadeh, Nicola Theis and Keith Davids

The aim of this study was to examine strategies to absorb impact shock during RaceRunning in participants with neurological motor disorders. For this purpose, 8 RaceRunning athletes (4 male and 4 female) voluntarily took part in the study. Each participant performed a series of 100-m sprints with a RaceRunning bike. Acceleration of the tibia and head was measured with 2 inertial measurement units and used to calculate foot-impact shock measures. Results showed that RaceRunning pattern was characterized by a lack of impact peak in foot–ground contact time and the existence of an active peak after foot contact. Due to the ergonomic properties of the RaceRunning bike, shock is attenuated throughout the stance phase. In conclusion, the results revealed that RaceRunning athletes with neurological motor disorders are capable of absorbing impact shock during assisted RaceRunning using a strategy that mimics runners without disabilities.

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Cédrick T. Bonnet

In an upright stance, individuals sway in unpredictable ways. Their eyes also move in unpredictable ways in fixation tasks. The objective of this study was to analyze visual functions, postural control, and cognitive involvement in stationary gaze. A total of 14 healthy young adults performed a fixation task and a free-viewing task (three trials per task, 45 s per trial). As expected, the results showed many (n = 32) significant positive Pearson correlation coefficients between the eye and center of pressure/body (head, neck, and lower back) movements in the fixation task. In the free-viewing task, the correlations were nonsignificant. Only 3 of the 32 significant correlations (9.4%) were significantly related to cognitive involvement (measured with a subjective questionnaire). These results indirectly strengthened the validity of the synergistic model of postural control.

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Jeffrey Martin, Mario Vassallo, Jacklyn Carrico and Ellen Armstrong

The purpose of this study was to predict Paralympian swimmers’ happiness as a result of winning 2016 Paralympic medals. Understanding potential antecedents of athletes’ happiness has theoretical and practical value. Medal winners (N = 138) had their facial expressions rated for happiness at the race finish. Three predictors were examined: finish place (i.e., first, second, or third), swimmers’ expectations for race place, and race time. A multiple-regression analysis predicting happiness was significant, F(3, 98) = 3.66, p < .015, accounting for 10% of the variance. Significant beta weights for race place (β = −0.551) and finishing higher than their 2015 world ranking (β = 0.551) indicated that higher-finishing swimmers were happier than lower-finishing swimmers, and swimmers who finished better than their 2015 ranking were happier than swimmers who finished lower than their ranking. The authors also found partial support for the counterfactual-thinking hypothesis for male swimmers and evidence of gender and country differences in happiness.