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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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Brenda Jo Bredemeier

A structural-developmental approach was employed in the present study to investigate athletes' moral cognitions about intentionally injurious sport acts. Analyses were based on interviews with 40 female and male high school and college basketball players. Subjects reasoned about general life and sport-specific moral dilemmas and made judgments in hypothetical and engaged contexts about the legitimacy of sport behaviors presented in the Continuum of Injurious Acts (CIA). Athletes' moral reasoning levels were inversely related to the number of CIA acts they perceived as legitimate; this reasoning-judgment relationship was particularly strong for sport reasoning and judgments made in the hypothetical context. Also, differences in the perceived legitimacy of CIA acts occurred in hypothetical and engaged contexts and as a function of sex and, in the engaged condition, school level. Results were discussed in light of athletes' coordination of moral reasoning and decision-making about intentionally injurious sport acts.

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Patrick R. Thomas and Gerard J. Fogarty

Individual differences in cognitive preferences were examined in analyzing the effects of imagery and self-talk training on the psychological skills and performance levels of amateur golfers. Thirty-two men and women participated in a series of four counterbalanced training workshops and activities conducted over 2 months at two golf clubs. A repeated measures MANOVA revealed significant improvement on five psychological and psychomotor skills measured by the Golf Performance Survey: negative emotions and cognitions, mental preparation, automaticity, putting skill, and seeking improvement. Participants’ responses to the Sport Imagery Questionnaire and ratings of their imagery and self-talk techniques increased significantly after training. Players also lowered their handicaps and performed significantly better on a Golf Skills Test after training. Imagery and self-talk training benefits were not linked to participants’ cognitive preferences. The cognitive flexibility displayed by these golfers signals the need for more research on processing preferences and has implications for practitioners working with athletes.

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Sophia Jowett

In an attempt to investigate the nature of the coach-athlete relationship in a systematic way, Jowett and colleagues (e.g., Jowett & Cockerill, in press; Jowett & Meek, 2000a) employed the interpersonal constructs of Closeness, Coorientation, and Complementarity (3 Cs) to reflect coaches’ and athletes’ emotions, cognitions, and behaviors respectively. This study utilized the 3 Cs in order to examine the nature of a single typical coach-athlete dyad that experiences interpersonal conflict. The dyad was interviewed and their responses were content analyzed. The analysis revealed a marked difference in the coach’s and athlete’s perceptions about their athletic relationship and areas of emotional isolation, disagreements, and incompatibility. The findings are discussed within the 3 Cs model.

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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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Karin Moesch and Erwin Apitzsch

Psychological Momentum (PM) is commonly referred to in competitive sports, but still has to be considered elusive from a scientific perspective. This study explores coaches’ perception of triggers, strategies and characteristics of PM in female elite handball teams. Semi-structured interviews with nine coaches were evaluated using a qualitative content analysis. The results revealed that positive and negative PM were characterized by factors regarding behavior, cognition, confidence, emotions, and the team. Triggers for positive PM were categorized into confidence, players’ individual factors, team factors, and team-opponent-factors, whereas triggers for negative PM related to coach factors, confidence, external factors, players’ individual factors, and team factors. Moreover, strategies emerged that are considered beneficial for controlling PM. The results are discussed with emphasis on behavioral aspects, confidence, emotions, team factors, and application. Foundations based on this study and recent research lead to the assumption that PM is probably best portrayed in a circular approach.

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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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Roy David Samuel and Gershon Tenenbaum

Throughout their careers, athletes may encounter various changes that interfere with their existing “athletic status quo.” During these transitional periods, change can occur in diverse levels of the athletic experience. In this paper we introduce a “scheme of change for sport psychology practice” (SCSPP) to describe typical characteristics of athletes’ change-events and processes. The SCSPP focuses on: (a) the stages that unfold as athletes encounter and address changes in their careers, and (b) the psychological-therapeutic process that might facilitate an effective personal change. The process of change is evaluated in terms of its meaning and significance for athletes, the associated decisions athletes make, and fluctuations in cognition and affect. In addition, we describe a therapeutic framework that includes a number of processes of change as interventions, which may facilitate consultants’ attempts to guide athletes who experience change-events, and factors that moderate these attempts. Avenues for research and practical implications are also provided.

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František Man, Iva Stuchlíková and Pavel Kindlmann

Spielberger’s trait-state anxiety theory suggests that persons high in trait anxiety have a greater tendency to perceive an ego-involving situation as threatening, and hence, they are expected to respond to this situation with elevated state anxiety (A-state). To test this hypothesis measurements of A-trait (low vs. high) as a between-subjects factor, measurements of stress level (low vs. high) as a within-subjects factor, and measurements of state anxiety, cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, self-confidence, and cognitive interference as dependent variables were made on 45 top-level soccer players. Statistical analysis revealed a significant person-situation interaction only in self-confidence. The lack of sensitivity in the state anxiety scores can be ascribed to the fact that soccer players play important games regularly and so become desensitized to precompetitive anxiety responses. A subsequent multiple regression analysis showed that task irrelevant cognitions are correlated only with cognitive anxiety and not with either self-confidence or somatic anxiety.

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Waneen W. Spirduso

Maintaining health and postponing chronic disease are assuming a higher priority in our aging society. It is therefore more critical than ever to understand the specific contribution that exercise makes toward the achievement of independent and healthy living for as many individuals as possible. Scientists have already shown that exercise plays an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health, muscular strength and endurance, balance, flexibility, and neuromuscular coordination. What remains for researchers of the future is to clarify the relationships among fitness, cognition, emotional health, and well-being in the elderly. More important, the greatest challenge for future researchers is to determine how an adult population that recognizes the benefits of exercise but continues to be sedentary can be transformed into a population that incorporates an adequate level of physical activity into its lifestyle.