The neural correlates of psychological momentum
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Psychological momentum has been described as an emergent pattern of competitive success. However, the psychomotor processes underlying psychological momentum have not been characterized. Method: In accord, EEG data were recorded during a head-to-head shooting competition to examine the psychomotor processes underlying psychological momentum. Given that expert level performance has been characterized by psychomotor efficiency (see Hatfield & Hillman, 2001), high levels of momentum were hypothesized to be characterized by psychomotor efficiency, as indicated by reduced task-irrelevant cortical processing (i.e., greater high alpha power and lower gamma power in T3) and reduced non-essential neural networking (i.e., lower T3-Fz low-beta coherence) relative to low levels of momentum. Results: In accordance with psychological momentum theory, the high momentum group exhibited greater self-confidence relative to the low momentum group. Contrary to the hypothesis, the high momentum group exhibited reduced high alpha power relative to the low momentum group. Discussion: As the participants were not expert performers, psychological momentum appeared to facilitate cortical dynamics indicative of superior performance given the stage of motor learning.