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Anne Sofie B. Malling, Bo M. Morberg, Lene Wermuth, Ole Gredal, Per Bech and Bente R. Jensen

depends on the task complexity and changes with both healthy aging and PD ( Maidan et al., 2016 ; Seidler et al., 2010 ). A recent functional magnetic resonance imaging study indicated a reorganization of the cortical activity during complex finger tapping in PD compared to healthy peers. The authors

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Tami Abourezk and Tonya Toole

Thirty-four women ages 60 to 75 years were divided into two groups based on self-reported physical activity levels. The presence of significant fitness differences between the two activity groups was confirmed by testing all subjects on a well-established submaximal mile walking test. Both groups performed a reaction time task under two levels of task complexity: simple reaction time (SRT) and complex choice reaction time (CCRT). Time to react in milliseconds was recorded for both levels of task complexity. Analysis of variance revealed that the active group reacted faster (p < .05) than the less active group on CCRT (active M, 1.100 sec; less active M, 1.818 sec). However, SRT times did not differ between groups (active M, .345 msec; less active M, .374 msec). This finding lends support to the hypothesis that cognitive task complexity influences the strength of the association between physical fitness and cognitive performance in older adults.

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Damon Burton

This investigation evaluated the impact of goal specificity and task complexity on basketball skill development. Two hypotheses were tested: (a) specific goals promote greater skill improvement than general goals; (b) goal setting effects are significantly greater for simple than for complex tasks. Students in a basketball class were matched on pretest skill and assigned to either specific or general goal setting groups. During each of 15 class periods of the 8-week course, students were assigned specific or general goals for each fundamental basketball skill in a 7-station circuit. Results partially confirmed both hypotheses. Profile analyses revealed that specific-goal subjects significantly outperformed, general-goal classmates on defensive footwork and ball handling drills whereas dribbling drills approached significance. Task complexity results suggested that subjects setting specific goals performed significantly better than those setting general goals on low but not on high complexity tasks, whereas results for moderate task complexity were mixed.

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W. Jack Rejeski and Elizabeth Kenney

This study examined how exercise endurance was influenced by varying the task complexity of dissociative coping. In Trial 1, 60 subjects were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a simple cognitive task (SCT), a complex cognitive task (CCT), or a control group (CG). All subjects were instructed to maintain an isometric contraction of 40% maximum on a handgrip dynamometer for as long as possible. Results revealed that subjects in the SCT and CCT conditions had greater endurance than those in the CG; however, varying the complexity of the task made no difference. Trial 2, a within-subjects design, was implemented to examine the potential mediating effects of task preference on cognitive coping. The protocol was identical to Trial 1 except that subjects previously assigned to the SCT condition were given the CCT and vice versa. Upon completion of Trial 2, subjects were asked which coping style they had preferred. A two-way mixed ANO-VA resulted in a significant coping style X preference interaction term. Specifically, subjects who preferred the complex task did equally well in both conditions, whereas subjects who preferred the simple task performed significantly better with the simple than with the complex task.

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Waneen W. Spirduso, Britta G. Schoenfelder-Zohdi, Jonghwan Choi and Susan M. Jay

This study investigated age-related differences in tapping speed with respect to warm-up and fatigue effects and also with respect to task complexity. An additional purpose was to determine the site of age-related slowing in stationary tapping. Adult females from three different age groups were asked to tap as fast as possible for 25 s with a specified digit combination by depressing microswitches on one or two metal boxes that were mounted on a data acquisition board. All groups showed a warm-up period during the first block, reached their peak tapping speed during the second block, and then gradually fatigued, as indicated by a decreasing number of taps. These findings suggest that to assess true tapping speed, a trial should not last more than 15 s, or the results may be confounded by fatigue effects. It was found that tapping with the thumb and index finger simultaneously is more difficult than tapping with one or both index fingers, regardless of age.

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Caterina Pesce

In exercise and cognition research, few studies have investigated whether and how the qualitative aspects of physical exercise may impact cognitive performance in the short or long term. This commentary, after recalling the evidence on the “dose-response” relationship, shifts the focus to intersections between different research areas that are proposed to shed light on how qualitative exercise characteristics can be used to obtain cognitive benefits. As concerns the acute exercise area, this commentary highlights the applied relevance of developmental and aging studies investigating the effects of exercise bouts differing in movement task complexity and cognitive demands. As regards the chronic exercise area, potential links to research on cognitive expertise in sport, functional ability in aging, and life skills training during development are discussed. “Gross-motor cognitive training” is proposed as a key concept with relevant implications for intervention strategies in childhood and older adulthood.

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Michael B. Martin and Mark H. Anshel

Two experiments were conducted to examine the effect of self-monitoring (SM) strategies on motor performance of varied difficulty. In a pilot test, participants’ perceptions of task difficulty agreed with performance on the easy task. Participants perceived the hard task to be significantly more difficult than indicated by the performance scores and perceived the easy task to be significantly less difficult than their performance on the complex task (p < .05). In the subsequent experiment, subjects performed 90 trials on either the difficult or easy motor task using either positive self-monitoring (PSM), negative self-monitoring (NSM), or no self-monitoring. MANOVAs indicated that PSM resulted in superior performance in comparison to NSM across trials while performing the difficult task (p < .05). In the easy task, PSM was inferior to NSM on motor performance across trials (p < .01). Further results also indicated that negative affect significantly decreased for PSM performing the difficult task, and for NSM performing the easy task.

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Vennila Krishnan and Slobodan Jaric

Coordination of the hand grip (G; acting normally to the grasping surface) and load forces (L; acting in parallel) in bimanual static tasks was studied. L symmetry (either the magnitude or direction) and frequency were manipulated in healthy participants (N = 14). More complex tasks (i.e., the higher frequency and/or asymmetric ones) revealed expected deterioration in both the task performance (accuracy of the prescribed L force profiles) and force coordination (G/L ratio and G-L correlation) suggesting importance of L frequency and symmetry in prehension activities. However, the same tasks revealed a more prominent deterioration of interlimb than the within-limb force coordination. This could be interpreted by two partly different and noncompeting neural control mechanisms where the coordination of interlimb forces may be based on ad-hoc and task-specific muscle coordination (often referred to as muscle synergies) while the within-limb coordination of G and L could be based on more stable and partly reflex mechanisms.

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Emily Dane-Staples

. In addition, frequencies were calculated for pedagogy preferences to date and pedagogy preferences for the remainder of the term. Inferential analysis included analysis of variance to test for differences in task complexity (H1 and H2) and independent t tests to assess differences in physical space

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Vicki Ebbeck and Maureen R. Weiss

Two issues regarding the arousal-performance relationship in sport were addressed in this study: the relationship between task complexity, optimal arousal, and maximal performance, and the appropriateness of using various measures of performance. Data were collected from high school athletes (n=51) across four track and field meets. State anxiety was obtained prior to each performance and three performance measures were obtained (event results, and quality of performance evaluated by the athlete and by the coach). Results indicated that the three performance measures were not equally related to A-state, suggesting that the relationship between arousal and performance results in a different description depending upon the performance measure that is used. Furthermore, degree of task complexity could not be distinguished across various track and field events. When individual events were used to examine the arousal-performance/task complexity relationship, results revealed that level of A-state needed for maximal performance could not be differentiated for specific events, nor could it be determined for above average, average, or below average performances on any one event.