Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine ( 2016 ) 15 , 214 - 222

Research article
Neural Markers of Performance States in an Olympic Athlete: An EEG Case Study in Air-Pistol Shooting
Selenia di Fronso1,2, Claudio Robazza1,2, Edson Filho1,3, Laura Bortoli1,2, Silvia Comani1,4, Maurizio Bertollo1,2, 
Author Information
1 BIND - Behavioral Imaging and Neural Dynamics Center, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy
2 Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy
3 School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
4 Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy

Maurizio Bertollo
✉ BIND-Behavioral Imaging Neural Dynamics Center, Dept. of Medicine and Aging Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Via dei Vestini, 33-66100 Chieti, Italy
Email: m.bertollo@unich.it
Publish Date
Received: 03-09-2015
Accepted: 28-01-2016
Published (online): 23-05-2016
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ABSTRACT

This study focused on identifying the neural markers underlying optimal and suboptimal performance experiences of an elite air-pistol shooter, based on the tenets of the multi-action plan (MAP) model. According to the MAP model’s assumptions, skilled athletes’ cortical patterns are expected to differ among optimal/automatic (Type 1), optimal/controlled (Type 2), suboptimal/controlled (Type 3), and suboptimal/automatic (Type 4) performance experiences. We collected performance (target pistol shots), cognitive-affective (perceived control, accuracy, and hedonic tone), and cortical activity data (32-channel EEG) of an elite shooter. Idiosyncratic descriptive analyses revealed differences in perceived accuracy in regard to optimal and suboptimal performance states. Event-Related Desynchronization/Synchronization analysis supported the notion that optimal-automatic performance experiences (Type 1) were characterized by a global synchronization of cortical arousal associated with the shooting task, whereas suboptimal controlled states (Type 3) were underpinned by high cortical activity levels in the attentional brain network. Results are addressed in light of the neural efficiency hypothesis and reinvestment theory. Perceptual training recommendations aimed at restoring optimal performance levels are discussed.

Key words: MAP model, EEG, ERD/ERS, shooting, elite performance


           Key Points
  • We investigated the neural markers underlying optimal and suboptimal performance experiences of an elite air-pistol shooter.
  • Optimal/automatic performance is characterized by a global synchronization of cortical activity associated with the shooting task.
  • Suboptimal controlled performance is characterized by high cortical arousal levels in the attentional brain networks.
  • Focused Event Related Desynchronization activity during Type 1 performance in frontal midline theta was found, with a clear distribution of Event Related Synchronization in the frontal and central areas just prior to shot release.
  • Event Related Desynchronization patterns in low Alpha band for Type 3 performance suggest that higher levels of general cortical arousal are associated with suboptimal-controlled performance states.
 
 
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