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Stephan Dutke, Thomas Jaitner, Timo Berse and Jonathan Barenberg

Research on effects of acute physical exercise on performance in a concurrent cognitive task has generated equivocal evidence. Processing efficiency theory predicts that concurrent physical exercise can increase resource requirements for sustaining cognitive performance even when the level of performance is unaffected. This hypothesis was tested in a dual-task experiment. Sixty young adults worked on a primary auditory attention task and a secondary interval production task while cycling on a bicycle ergometer. Physical load (cycling) and cognitive load of the primary task were manipulated. Neither physical nor cognitive load affected primary task performance, but both factors interacted on secondary task performance. Sustaining primary task performance under increased physical and/or cognitive load increased resource consumption as indicated by decreased secondary task performance. Results demonstrated that physical exercise effects on cognition might be underestimated when only single task performance is the focus.

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Matthias Bluemke, Ralf Brand, Geoffrey Schweizer and Daniela Kahlert

Models employed in exercise psychology highlight the role of reflective processes for explaining behavior change. However, as discussed in social cognition literature, information-processing models also consider automatic processes (dual-process models). To examine the relevance of automatic processing in exercise psychology, we used a priming task to assess the automatic evaluations of exercise stimuli in physically active sport and exercise majors (n = 32), physically active nonsport majors (n = 31), and inactive students (n = 31). Results showed that physically active students responded faster to positive words after exercise primes, whereas inactive students responded more rapidly to negative words. Priming task reaction times were successfully used to predict reported amounts of exercise in an ordinal regression model. Findings were obtained only with experiential items reflecting negative and positive consequences of exercise. The results illustrate the potential importance of dual-process models in exercise psychology.

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Deborah Kendzierski and Wendy Johnson

Three studies investigated the reliability and construct validity of the Exercise Thoughts Questionnaire (ETQ), an instrument developed to assess the frequency with which individuals have thoughts involving reasons or excuses for not exercising at the present time. Such cognitions are hypothesized to interfere with exercise behavior. Study 1 involved 164 college women; Study 2, 209 undergraduates; and Study 3, 196 undergraduates. Analyses revealed that the ETQ has good internal consistency and test-retest reliability. ETQ scores related in theoretically meaningful ways to exercise intentions, previous exercise experience, the number of days participants considered exercising but did not actually exercise, and both concurrent and prospective self-reports of exercise behavior. Exploratory analyses revealed that women reported a higher frequency of thoughts involving reasons or excuses for not exercising than men and that students who participated in collegiate, intramural, or club sports having required practices reported a lower frequency of such thoughts.

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Henning Plessner

Several studies have found that gymnasts’ placement in within-team order affects their scores (e.g., Scheer & Ansorge, 1975). This effect has been explained in terms of judges’ expectations yielding a cognitive confirmation. In the present study, the influence of expectations on gymnastics judging was conceptualized within the schema approach of social cognition research. Three factors are addressed that contribute to the understanding of the placement effect: task difficulty, social situation, and process stages. In an experiment, 48 gymnastics judges scored videotaped routines of a men’s team competition. Target routines appeared either in the first or the fifth position of within-team order. Depending on the difficulty of the judgment task, a significant placement effect was found. This effect resulted from biased encoding of single elements, as well as from heuristic judgment strategies. Results are discussed in reference to the practice of gymnastics judging.

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Panteleimon Ekkekakis

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) presents an appealing option for investigating hemodynamic changes in the cerebral cortex during exercise. This review examines the physical basis of NIRS and the types of available instruments. Emphasis is placed on the physiological interpretation of NIRS signals. Theories from affective neuroscience and exercise psychobiology, including Davidson's prefrontal asymmetry hypothesis, Dietrich's transient hypofrontality hypothesis, and Ekkekakis's dual-mode model, are reviewed, highlighting the potential for designing NIRS-based tests in the context of exercise. Findings from 28 studies involving acute bouts of exercise are summarized. These studies suggest that the oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex increases during mild-to-moderate exercise and decreases during strenuous exercise, possibly proximally to the respiratory compensation threshold. Future studies designed to test hypotheses informed by psychological theories should help elucidate the significance of these changes for such important concepts as cognition, affect, exertion, and central fatigue.

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Travis E. Dorsch, Alan L. Smith and Meghan H. McDonough

The purpose of this study was to enhance understanding of how parents are socialized by their children's organized youth sport participation. Five semistructured focus groups were conducted with youth sport parents (N = 26) and analyzed using qualitative methods based on Strauss and Corbin (1998). Sixty-three underlying themes reflected parents' perceived socialization experiences resulting from their children's organized youth sport participation. Each theme represented 1 of 11 subcategories of parental change, which were subsumed within four broad categories of parent sport socialization (behavior, cognition, affect, relationships). Each category of parental change was interconnected with the other three categories. Moreover, six potential moderators of parent sport socialization were documented, namely, child age, parent past sport experience, parent and child gender, child temperament, community sport context, and type of sport setting (individual or team). Together, these findings enhance understanding of parent sport socialization processes and outcomes, thus opening avenues for future research on parents in the youth sport setting.

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Chun-Hao Wang and Chia-Liang Tsai

The study aimed to investigate the effects of regular physical activity on visuospatial cognition in elderly adults, and to further understand the potential neural mechanisms underpinning such effects. We assessed 24 physically active elderly adults and 24 sedentary counterparts using behavioral and neuroelectric measures during a visuospatial cognitive task with different levels of cognitive load. The results showed that the active group had higher behavioral accuracy along with greater P3 amplitudes, regardless of the level of cognitive load. Moreover, the correlation results revealed that physical activity levels were positively associated with accuracy performance in both conditions, while being correlated with frontal P3 amplitudes in the high cognitively demanding condition. However, no significant effects were observed in terms of P3 latency and contingent negative variation. These findings suggest that regular physical activity might be part of an effective lifestyle to attenuate the trajectory of age-related cognitive declines, thus increasing the likelihood of individuals becoming high-functioning older adults.

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David W. Eccles and Gershon Tenenbaum

The cognitive properties and processes of teams have not been considered in sport psychology research. These properties and processes extend beyond the sum of the cognitive properties and processes of the constituent members of the team to include factors unique to teams, such as team coordination and communication. A social-cognitive conceptual framework for the study of team coordination and communication is offered, based on research on social cognition and from industrial and organizational psychology. This is followed by a discussion of coordination and communication in expert teams. In addition, an overview of the type of methods that could be used to measure aspects of team coordination and communication in sport is provided. The framework and methods afford hypothesis generation for empirical research on coordination and communication in sport teams, a means to begin examining these constructs in sport, and a theoretical base with which to reconcile the resultant data.

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Benjamin A. Sibley and Sian L. Beilock

In the current work we asked whether executive function, as measured by tests of working memory capacity, might benefit from an acute bout of exercise and, more specifically, whether individuals who are lower or higher in working memory to begin with would be more or less affected by an exercise manipulation. Healthy adults completed working memory measures in a nonexercise (baseline) session and immediately following a 30-min self-paced bout of exercise on a treadmill (exercise session). Sessions were conducted 1 week apart and session order was counterbalanced across participants. A significant Session × Working Memory interaction was obtained such that only those individuals lowest in working memory benefited from the exercise manipulation. This work suggests that acute bouts of exercise may be most beneficial for healthy adults whose cognitive performance is generally the lowest, and it demonstrates that the impact of exercise on cognition is not uniform across all individuals.

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David E. Vance, Virginia G. Wadley, Karlene K. Ball, Daniel L. Roenker and Matthew Rizzo

Physical activity has been shown to be positively associated with cognitive health, but the mechanisms underlying the benefits of physical activity on cognitive health are unclear. The present study simultaneously examined two hypotheses using structural equation modeling (SEM). The depression-reduction hypothesis states that depression suppresses cognitive ability and that physical activity alleviates dysphoric mood and thereby improves cognitive ability. The social-stimulation hypothesis posits that social contact, which is often facilitated by socially laden physical activities, improves cognitive functioning by stimulating the nervous system. Sedentary behavior in the absence of physical activity is expected to exert an inverse relationship on cognitive health through each of these hypotheses. Community-dwelling elders (N = 158) were administered a variety of measures of cognition, depression, social support, and physical activity. SEM techniques provided partial support for the social-stimulation hypothesis and depression-reduction hypothesis. Implications for treating depression and improving cognitive functioning are discussed.