Context: Although the beneficial effects of using an external focus of attention are well documented in attainment and performance of movement execution, neural mechanisms underlying external focus’ benefits are mostly unknown. Objective: To assess brain function during a lower-extremity gross motor movement while manipulating an internal and external focus of attention. Design: Cross-over study. Setting: Neuroimaging center Participants: A total of 10 healthy subjects (5 males and 5 females) Intervention: Participants completed external and internal focus of attention unilateral left 45° knee extension/flexion movements at a rate of 1.2 Hz laying supine in a magnetic resonance imaging scanner for 4 blocks of 30 seconds interspersed with 30-second rest blocks. During the internal condition, participants were instructed to “squeeze their quadriceps.” During the external condition, participants were instructed to “focus on a target” positioned above their tibia. Main Outcome Measures: T1 brain structural imaging was performed for registration of the functional data. For each condition, 3T functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygenation level dependent data representing 90 whole-brain volumes were acquired. Results: During the external relative to internal condition, increased activation was detected in the right occipital pole, cuneal cortex, anterior portion of the lingual gyrus, and intracalcarine cortex (Zmax = 4.5–6.2, P < .001). During the internal relative to external condition, increased activation was detected in the left primary motor cortex, left supplementary motor cortex, and cerebellum (Zmax = 3.4–3.5, P < .001). Conclusions: Current results suggest that an external focus directed toward a visual target produces more brain activity in regions associated with vision and ventral streaming pathways, whereas an internal focus manipulated through instruction increases activation in brain regions that are responsible for motor control. Results from this study serve as baseline information for future prevention and rehabilitation investigations of how manipulating focus of attention can constructively affect neuroplasticity during training and rehabilitation.
Louisa D. Raisbeck, Jed A. Diekfuss, Dustin R. Grooms and Randy Schmitz
Christopher K. Rhea, Jed A. Diekfuss, Jeffrey T. Fairbrother and Louisa D. Raisbeck
Falls in older adults are a public health challenge due to their influence on well-being and health-care costs. One way to address this challenge is to discover new methods to enhance postural control in older adults so they are better prepared to maintain an upright stance. Older and younger adults (N = 32) performed a static balance task on a force plate with no instructions, internal focus instructions, or external focus instructions. Center of pressure displacement time series were analyzed using sample entropy and standard deviation. Only the external focus condition significantly increased postural control entropy, which was observed across both age groups. This study showed that an external focus of attention can be used to increase postural control entropy within a single session of testing.
Scott Bonnette, Christopher A. DiCesare, Adam W. Kiefer, Michael A. Riley, Kim D. Barber Foss, Staci Thomas, Katie Kitchen, Jed A. Diekfuss and Gregory D. Myer
Context: Existing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury prevention programs have failed to reverse the high rate of ACL injuries in adolescent female athletes. Objective: This investigation attempts to overcome factors that limit efficacy with existing injury prevention programs through the use of a novel, objective, and real-time interactive visual feedback system designed to reduce the biomechanical risk factors associated with ACL injuries. Design: Cross-over study. Setting: Medical center laboratory. Participants: A total of 20 females (age = 19.7 [1.34] y; height = 1.74 [0.09] m; weight = 72.16 [12.45] kg) participated in this study. Methods: Participants performed sets of 10 bodyweight squats in each of 8 training blocks (ie, 4 real-time and 4 control blocks) and 3 testing blocks for a total of 110 squats. Feedback conditions were blocked and counterbalanced with half of participants randomly assigned to receive the real-time feedback block first and half receiving the control (sham) feedback first. Results: Heat map analysis revealed that during interaction with the real-time feedback, squat performance measured in terms of key biomechanical parameters was improved compared with performance when participants squatted with the sham stimulus. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the interactive feedback system guided participants to significantly improve movement biomechanics during performance of a body weight squat, which is a fundamental exercise for a longer term ACL injury risk reduction intervention. A longer training and testing period is necessary to investigate the efficacy of this feedback approach to effect long-term adaptations in the biomechanical risk profile of athletes.
Dustin R. Grooms, Adam W. Kiefer, Michael A. Riley, Jonathan D. Ellis, Staci Thomas, Katie Kitchen, Christopher A. DiCesare, Scott Bonnette, Brooke Gadd, Kim D. Barber Foss, Weihong Yuan, Paula Silva, Ryan Galloway, Jed A. Diekfuss, James Leach, Kate Berz and Gregory D. Myer
Context: A limiting factor for reducing anterior cruciate ligament injury risk is ensuring that the movement adaptions made during the prevention program transfer to sport-specific activity. Virtual reality provides a mechanism to assess transferability, and neuroimaging provides a means to assay the neural processes allowing for such skill transfer. Objective: To determine the neural mechanisms for injury risk–reducing biomechanics transfer to sport after anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention training. Design: Cohort study. Setting: Research laboratory. Participants: Four healthy high school soccer athletes. Interventions: Participants completed augmented neuromuscular training utilizing real-time visual feedback. An unloaded knee extension task and a loaded leg press task were completed with neuroimaging before and after training. A virtual reality soccer-specific landing task was also competed following training to assess transfer of movement mechanics. Main Outcome Measures: Landing mechanics during the virtual reality soccer task and blood oxygen level–dependent signal change during neuroimaging. Results: Increased motor planning, sensory and visual region activity during unloaded knee extension and decreased motor cortex activity during loaded leg press were highly correlated with improvements in landing mechanics (decreased hip adduction and knee rotation). Conclusion: Changes in brain activity may underlie adaptation and transfer of injury risk–reducing movement mechanics to sport activity. Clinicians may be able to target these specific brain processes with adjunctive therapy to facilitate intervention improvements transferring to sport.