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Neural Markers of Performance States in an Olympic Athlete: An EEG Case Study in Air-Pistol Shooting

Neural Markers of Performance States in an Olympic Athlete: An EEG Case Study in Air-Pistol Shooting

Authors: 
Selenia di Fronso, Claudio Robazza, Edson Filho, Laura Bortoli, Silvia Comani and Maurizio Bertollo
Year: 
2016
Journal: 
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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), subop-timal/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 Desynchroniza-tion/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 atten-tional brain network. Results are addressed in light of the neural efficiency hypothesis and reinvestment theory. Perceptual train-ing recommendations aimed at restoring optimal performance levels are discussed.

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