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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum and Robert J. Smith

In this study, experimenters (pseudo-coaches) provided feedback that varied in valence, sequence, and amount to 50 male college students. A laboratory analogue paradigm was used that included a basketball-like underhand free throw task in which subjects first were instructed on proper technique and then took 10 baseline shots (trials) followed by 2 blocks of 20 trials each. Subjects were randomly assigned. Some interacted with a pseudo-coach who made no comments during the two experimental trial blocks (control), while others received feedback (6-8 comments per trial block) that was response-specific, emotionally oriented, and provided in one of four sequences: positive-positive, negative-negative, positive-negative, or negative-positive. Based on prior research on coach behavior and social psychological studies of interpersonal behavior, we hypothesized that both of the continuous feedback groups would show performance decrements and associated reactions to the coach and the task. These predictions were supported regarding performance and, to some extent, regarding a measure of sustained self-observation. Discussion includes interpretation of the nominally superior performance of the control group, the nonsignificant results on the subjective evaluation measures, and implications of these findings in view of external validity criteria and prior analyses in the emerging behavioral technology of coaching.

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Cyril Burdet and Patrice Rougier

To question the relation between uni- and bipedal postural skills, 21 subjects were required to stand on a force platform through uni- and bipedal conditions. These two protocols are commonly used paradigms to assess the balance capacities of healthy and disabled patients. The recorded displacements of the center of pressure (CP) were decomposed along mediolateral and anteroposterior axes and assessed through variance positions and parameters obtained from fractional Brownian motion (fBm) modeling to determine the nature and the spatiotemporal organization of the successive controlling mechanisms. The variances underline the relative independence of the two tasks. Nevertheless, as highlighted by the fBm framework, postural correction is initiated for the unipedal stance after shorter time delays and longer covered distances. When compared to bipedal standing, one of the main characteristics of unipedal standing is to induce better-controlled CP trajectories, as deduced from the scaling regimes computed from the fBm modeling. Lastly, the control of the CP trajectories during the shortest time intervals along the anteroposterior axis appears identical for both uni- and bipedal conditions. Unipedal and bipedal standing controls should thus be viewed as two complementary tasks, each providing specific and complementary insights into the postural control organization.

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Clayton L. Van Doren

The purpose of this study was to determine whether direct measurements of grasp stiffness agreed with stiffness inferred from the slopes of isovolitional force-span characteristics derived from previous grasp-effort matching data. Grasp stiffness for three-finger pinch was measured as a function of initial force and finger span using step displacements applied in a do-not-intervene paradigm. Subjects pinched a free-floating, motorized manipulandum in each hand and squeezed both with equal effort; one of the hands was perturbed at random. Stiffness was calculated from the initial and final steady-state values of force and span. The effects of step amplitude, rise-time, and initial load stiffness were investigated; grasp stiffness decreased significantly for larger steps, increased slightly for longer rise-times, and was unaffected by load stiffness. Grasp stiffness then was measured as a function of initial force and span using a single set of step parameters. Stiffness increased significantly in proportion to force but was changed only slightly by span. It was concluded that the perturbation and effort-matching measures of stiffness are not equivalent and represent different components of motor behavior.

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Tsung-Yu Hsieh, Matheus M. Pacheco and Karl M. Newell

The goal of present experiment was to test whether different speed-accuracy paradigms outcomes (time minimization and time matching) were due to different temporal and spatial task constraints. Fifteen participants twice performed 100 trials of time minimization and time matching tasks with the yoked temporal and spatial requirements (criterion time and target width). The results showed that performing an aiming movement under the same spatial and temporal constraints resulted in similar outcomes with distributional properties (skewness and kurtosis) being slightly affected by practice effects. There was a trade-off in the information entropy for space and time (temporal information entropy decreased as spatial information entropy increased) with practice. Nevertheless, the joint space-time entropy of outcome did not change across tasks and conditions—revealing a common level of space-time entropy between these two categories of aiming tasks. These findings support the hypothesis that under the same spatial and temporal constraints the movement speed-accuracy function shares the same properties independent of task category.

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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, David A. Wittrock, Robert J. Smith and William Monson

We propose that training athletes to use certain cognitive-behavioral procedures, “criticism inoculation training” (CIT), could enable them to circumvent the adverse effects of excessively negativistic coaching. This experiment evaluated the efficacy of one potential CIT strategy, positive self-monitoring (systematically observing and recording instances of success). A laboratory paradigm was used in which 60 male college students attempted to learn the underhand free throw basketball technique from one of four undergraduate pseudocoaches. Subjects were randomly assigned to four groups determined by a 2 (negative vs. no feedback) × 2 (positive vs. no self-monitoring) factorial design. Negative feedback was expected to debilitate, while positive self-monitoring was expected to facilitate performance, sustained self-observation of videotapes of performance, and subjective evaluations of the “coach” and the technique. Negative feedback clearly produced extensive adverse effects, but surprisingly, positive self-monitoring also decreased performance. Theories of skilled motor behavior (MacKay, 1982) and self-regulation (Carver, 1979) helped explain why positive self-monitoring failed as a CIT procedure. This interpretation which focuses on the novelty of the task and the development of negative expectancies also led to suggestions of strategies that could more effectively fulfill the promise of the CIT concept.

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Yi-An Chen, Yu-Chen Chung, Rachel Proffitt, Eric Wade and Carolee Winstein

Attention during exercise is known to affect performance; however, the attentional demand inherent to virtual reality (VR)-based exercise is not well understood. We used a dual-task paradigm to compare the attentional demands of VR-based and non-VR-based (conventional, real-world) exercise: 22 older adults (with no diagnosed disabilities) performed a primary reaching task to virtual and real targets in a counterbalanced block order while verbally responding to an unanticipated auditory tone in one third of the trials. The attentional demand of the primary reaching task was inferred from the voice response time (VRT) to the auditory tone. Participants’ engagement level and task experience were also obtained using questionnaires. The virtual target condition was more attention demanding (significantly longer VRT) than the real target condition. Secondary analyses revealed a significant interaction between engagement level and target condition on attentional demand. For participants who were highly engaged, attentional demand was high and independent of target condition. However, for those who were less engaged, attentional demand was low and depended on target condition (i.e., virtual > real). These findings add important knowledge to the growing body of research pertaining to the development and application of technology-enhanced exercise for older adults and for rehabilitation purposes.

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Stephanie M. Mazerolle, Thomas G. Bowman and Jessica L. Barrett

The commissioners of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and the Board of Directors of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) have acted to move the professional degree in athletic training from a bachelor’s degree to a graduate degree. The decision was largely based upon growth of the profession and aligning with the face of healthcare education. Therefore, we wanted to understand the perceived benefits of the graduate model. Using a qualitative paradigm, we electronically interviewed 29 students and faculty members (13 athletic training faculty and program directors, 16 students) currently in Professional Masters Athletic Training Programs (PM ATP). These represented 13 of the 29 (45%) CAATE-accredited PM ATPs. Five themes emerged from the data: (1) engagement and time spent in clinical education allows students to prepare for their roles as athletic trainers, (2) faculty stress the importance of interprofessional education, (3) expecting prior foundational knowledge allows focused education training at the graduate level, (4) increased professional commitment to stay in athletic training rather than use the training/education as a stepping-stone to other career paths, and (5) higher student maturity facilitates deeper learning. Based on these results, the perceived benefits of the PM ATP model are multifactorial.

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Stacy Winter and Dave Collins

Priming has recently emerged in the literature as offering advantages in the preparation for skilled performance. Accordingly, the current study tested the efficacy of imagery against a priming paradigm as a means of enhancing motor performance: in essence, contrasting a preparation technique primarily under the conscious control of the performer to an unconscious technique promoting automaticity. The imagery intervention was guided by the PETTLEP model, while the priming intervention took the form of a scrambled sentence task. Eighteen skilled field-hockey players performed a dribbling task under imagery, priming, skill-focus, and control conditions. Results revealed a significant improvement in speed and technical accuracy for the imagery condition as opposed to the skill-focus, control, and priming conditions. In addition, there were no significant differences in performance times or technical accuracy between the priming and control conditions. The study provides further support for the efficacy of imagery to elicit enhanced motor skill performance but questions the emerging emphasis on priming as an effective tool in preparation for physical tasks.

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Hideyuki Tanaka, Wataru Mizuno and Masato Iwami

This study used a pantomime paradigm to investigate whether simulated motor actions are generally effective in estimating the force necessary to accurately drive an object toward the required target. Eleven subjects were asked to vertically throw a rubber ball toward three different targets and then catch it, all while sitting in a chair (ACT). In addition, they performed the same task under a condition whereby mechanical interactions with the rubber ball were minimized. This condition encompassed two different modes: pantomime (PANTO) and imagination without swings (IMAGE). PANTO reproduced the motor patterns observed during ACT. The maximum amplitudes and maximum accelerations of the upward swing movements scaled well in linear proportion to the target distances, although the maximum accelerations were significantly smaller than those in the ACT trials. IMAGE led to the overestimation of the ball’s flight time, which is represented by the release-catch intervals. PANTO significantly reduced this tendency. These results suggest that pantomimed motor execution can prime more realistic mental simulations of object motion when compared with purely imagined motor execution.

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Deborah Dewey and Lawrence R. Brawley

A major research limitation in investigating the validity of the TAIS has been the failure to distinguish when attentional style has an effect on the information processing system, early as in encoding or late after processing. Few investigations have examined the TAIS predictive validity in a controlled setting wherein task attention demands can be systematically and accurately varied. Does the general trait of attentional style really have anything to do with how attention related information is processed? The present study examined this question using a valid attention theory (Treisman's feature integration theory) and a visual search paradigm. When the TAIS attentional-style scales were correlated with visual search rate for attention demanding targets, no significant relationships were observed. Specifically, TAIS scales did not relate to visual search rate for an attention demanding target, the performance of subjects extreme in search rate, or the central to peripheral slowing of search time in target detection. The factorial validity of the TAIS was also questioned. It was concluded that the attentional-style scales were not valid in predicting how attention related visual information is processed. The importance of distinguishing when attentional style might be operating in the information processing system was emphasized for future research.