Previous studies have revealed that several cortical signatures are associated with superior motor performance in sports, particularly precision sports. This review examined the strength of the evidence from these studies so that a clear conclusion could be drawn and a concrete direction for future efforts revealed. A total of 26 articles assessing the relationship between cortical activity and precision motor performance were extracted from databases. This review concluded that among the electroencephalographic components examined, only sensorimotor rhythm demonstrated a consistent and causal relationship with superior precision motor performance, whereas findings related to the left temporal alpha and frontal theta and alpha rhythms were not consistent and lacked the evidence needed to draw a causal inference for a role in superior precision motor performance. Future studies would benefit from methodological improvements including larger sample sizes, narrower skill-gap comparisons, evidenced-based and refined neurofeedback-training protocols, and consideration of ecological validity.
Understanding and Controlling Cortical Activity for Superior Performance
Chih-Yen Chang and Tsung-Min Hung
Frontal Midline Theta Is a Specific Indicator of Optimal Attentional Engagement During Skilled Putting Performance
Shih-Chun Kao, Chung-Ju Huang, and Tsung-Min Hung
The purpose of this study was to determine whether frontal midline theta activity (Fmθ), an indicator of top-down sustained attention, can be used to distinguish an individual’s best and worst golf putting performances during the pre-putt period. Eighteen golfers were recruited and asked to perform 100 putts in a self-paced simulated putting task. We then compared the Fmθ power of each individual’s 15 best and worst putts. The results indicated that theta power in the frontal brain region significantly increased in both best and worst putts, compared with other midline regions. Moreover, the Fmθ power significantly decreased for the best putts compared with the worst putts. These findings suggest that Fmθ is a manifestation of sustained attention during a skilled performance and that optimal attentional engagement, as characterized by a lower Fmθ power, is beneficial for successful skilled performance rather than a higher Fmθ power reflecting excessive attentional control.
Acute Resistance Exercise Facilitates Attention Control in Adult Males Without an Age-Moderating Effect
Shu-Shih Hsieh, Yu-Kai Chang, Chin-Lung Fang, and Tsung-Min Hung
The current study examined the effects of acute resistance exercise (RE) on adult males’ attention control. Eighteen younger males (23.9 ± 2.3 years) and 17 older males (66.4 ± 1.2 years) were recruited. Participants underwent a RE session and a reading session in a counterbalanced order. RE protocol required individuals to perform two sets of 10 repetitions of eight exercises using weights set at 70% of 10-repetition maximum. Attention control was assessed by go/no-go SART with intraindividual variability in reaction times (IIV in RT), in addition to reaction time and accuracy, employed as measures of attention control. Results indicated that IIV in RT was smaller following RE sessions than after reading sessions for both age groups. In addition, RTs were shorter after the exercise session. These findings suggest that RE enhances attention control in adult males and that the size of this effect is not moderated by age.
Assessment of Reactive Motor Performance with Event-Related Brain Potentials: Attention Processes in Elite Table Tennis Players
Tsung-Min Hung, Thomas W. Spalding, D. Laine Santa Maria, and Bradley D. Hatfield
Motor readiness, visual attention, and reaction time (RT) were assessed in 15 elite table tennis players (TTP) and 15 controls (C) during Posner’s cued attention task. Lateralized readiness potentials (LRP) were derived from contingent negative variation (CNV) at Sites C3 and C4, elicited between presentation of directional cueing (S1) and the appearance of the imperative stimulus (S2), to assess preparation for hand movement while P1 and N1 component amplitudes were derived from occipital event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to S2 to assess visual attention. Both groups had faster RT to validly cued stimuli and slower RT to invalidly cued stimuli relative to the RT to neutral stimuli that were not preceded by directional cueing, but the groups did not differ in attention benefit or cost. However, TTP did have faster RT to all imperative stimuli; they maintained superior reactivity to S2 whether preceded by valid, invalid, or neutral warning cues. Although both groups generated LRP in response to the directional cues, TTP generated larger LRP to prepare the corresponding hand for movement to the side of the cued location. TTP also had an inverse cueing effect for N1 amplitude (i.e., amplitude of N1 to the invalid cue > amplitude of N1 to the valid cue) while C visually attended to the expected and unexpected locations equally. It appears that TTP preserve superior reactivity to stimuli of uncertain location by employing a compensatory strategy to prepare their motor response to an event associated with high probability, while simultaneously devoting more visual attention to an upcoming event of lower probability.
Electroencephalography and Mental States Associated with Elite Performance
George W. Lawton, Tsung Min Hung, Pekka Saarela, and Bradley D. Hatfield
High levels of athletic performance are frequently attributed to mental states. Evidence for this attribution comes mainly from phenomenological reports of athletes. However, research with elite performers using electrophysiological measures has tracked changes in nervous system activity in real time during performance, which may further understanding of such states. Specific patterns of psychophysiological activity from the cerebral cortex, in the form of event-related slow potentials (SPs), as well as spectral content measured by electroencephalography (EEG), occur in the few seconds of performance (preshot) preparation. We discuss these data. We suggest that the logical structure of research with athletes differs from other psychophysiological research. We emphasize the theoretical mind-body issues and the logical structure of these investigations to suggest directions for future research.
Motor Ability and Inhibitory Processes in Children With ADHD: A Neuroelectric Study
Chiao-Ling Hung, Yu-Kai Chang, Yuan-Shuo Chan, Chia-Hao Shih, Chung-Ju Huang, and Tsung-Min Hung
The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship between motor ability and response inhibition using behavioral and electrophysiological indices in children with ADHD. A total of 32 participants were recruited and underwent a motor ability assessment by administering the Basic Motor Ability Test-Revised (BMAT) as well as the Go/No-Go task and event-related potential (ERP) measurements at the same time. The results indicated that the BMAT scores were positively associated with the behavioral and ERP measures. Specifically, the BMAT average score was associated with a faster reaction time and higher accuracy, whereas higher BMAT subset scores predicted a shorter P3 latency in the Go condition. Although the association between the BMAT average score and the No-Go accuracy was limited, higher BMAT average and subset scores predicted a shorter N2 and P3 latency and a larger P3 amplitude in the No-Go condition. These findings suggest that motor abilities may play roles that benefit the cognitive performance of ADHD children.
Effects of Acute Exercise on Executive Function: A Study With a Tower of London Task
Yu-Kai Chang, Chia-Liang Tsai, Tsung-Min Hung, Edmund Cheung So, Feng-Tzu Chen, and Jennifer L. Etnier
The purpose of this study is to extend the literature by examining the effects of an acute bout of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise on the executive functions of planning and problem solving assessed using a Tower of London Task (TOL Task). Forty-two participants were randomly assigned into either exercise or control group, and performed the TOL Task, before and immediately following exercise or a control treatment. The exercise group performed 30 min of exercise on a stationary cycle at moderate to vigorous intensity while the control group read for the same length of time. Results indicated that the exercise group achieved improvements in TOL Task scores reflecting the quality of planning and problem solving, but not in those reflecting rule adherence and performance speed. These findings indicate that an acute bout of aerobic exercise has facilitative effects on the executive functions of planning and problem solving.
Sensorimotor Rhythm Neurofeedback Enhances Golf Putting Performance
Ming-Yang Cheng, Chung-Ju Huang, Yu-Kai Chang, Dirk Koester, Thomas Schack, and Tsung-Min Hung
Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity has been related to automaticity during skilled action execution. However, few studies have bridged the causal link between SMR activity and sports performance. This study investigated the effect of SMR neurofeedback training (SMR NFT) on golf putting performance. We hypothesized that preelite golfers would exhibit enhanced putting performance after SMR NFT. Sixteen preelite golfers were recruited and randomly assigned into either an SMR or a control group. Participants were asked to perform putting while electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded, both before and after intervention. Our results showed that the SMR group performed more accurately when putting and exhibited greater SMR power than the control group after 8 intervention sessions. This study concludes that SMR NFT is effective for increasing SMR during action preparation and for enhancing golf putting performance. Moreover, greater SMR activity might be an EEG signature of improved attention processing, which induces superior putting performance.