Brain Behavior is Related to Motor Behavior During Competition

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The University of Maryland McNair Scholars Undergraduate Research Journal, 2, (2010): 287-303



In this study the alpha band waves of low to moderately skilled pistol shooters are evaluated to examine the performance of the individuals under a competitive environment. The factors that cater to success in the autonomous stage of learning are different for the athlete. There has been investigation of the brain patterns of experts, while performing a task is efficient and in accord with Fitts and Posner’s claims of what it takes to be successful while in the last stage of motor learning (Hatfield & Hillman, 2001). The problem being addressed in the study is examining Fitts and Posner’s cognitive stage of motor learning. The first question being studied is how does low alpha power relate to variability in the performance of a pistol shoot? The second question being studied is how does high alpha coherence relate to jerk in the performance of a pistol shoot? The first hypothesis to prove is that higher cortical arousal (i.e. lower alpha power), will be associated with better performance (i.e., less variable pistol trajectories). The second hypotheses to prove is networking to the motor planning region (i.e. higher coherence) will be positively associated with increased levels of jerk. The results of the study find that those who performed better (less variability and more jerk) exhibited brain patterns associated with relying on external cues, events and responses.