Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Visual Information Underpinning Skilled Anticipation: The Effect of Blur on a Coupled and Uncoupled in Situ Anticipatory Response

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Visual Information Underpinning Skilled Anticipation: The Effect of Blur on a Coupled and Uncoupled in Situ Anticipatory Response

Article excerpt

Coupled interceptive actions are understood to be the result of neural processing-and visual information-which is distinct from that used for uncoupled perceptual responses. To examine the visual information used for action and perception, skilled cricket batters anticipated the direction of balls bowled toward them using a coupled movement (an interceptive action that preserved the natural coupling between perception and action) or an uncoupled (verbal) response, in each of four different visual blur conditions (plano, +1.00, +2.00, +3.00). Coupled responses were found to be better than uncoupled ones, with the blurring of vision found to result in different effects for the coupled and uncoupled response conditions. Low levels of visual blur did not affect coupled anticipation, a finding consistent with the comparatively poorer visual information on which online interceptive actions are proposed to rely. In contrast, some evidence was found to suggest that low levels of blur may enhance the uncoupled verbal perception of movement.

The accurate anticipation of event outcomes based on the observation of early portions of an action sequence is an important element of expertise in many interceptive tasks, yet traditional means of assessing anticipatory skill may rely on neural mechanisms different from those used in the natural setting. Existing evidence (e.g., Abernethy & Russell, 1987) indicates that skilled athletes are better able than less skilled performers to predict the movement outcomes of opposition players based on the availability of advance visual information (i.e., movement pattern information that occurs prior to the availability of unambiguous confirmatory information, such as ball flight). Skilled tennis players, for example, are able to predict characteristics of the serve (such as ball direction and spin) at better-than-chance levels, based on observation of the precontact movement pattern of the opposing player. Likewise, skilled soccer goalkeepers are able to predict the direction of a penalty kick at better-than-chance levels before the opposition player actually kicks the ball (e.g., Savelsbergh, van der Kamp, Williams, & Ward, 2005). Skilled athletes can make predictions of an event outcome earlier in the progression of the action sequence than can novice observers (Abernethy, 1990; Goulet, Bard, & Fleury, 1989), with these predictions made on the basis of additional sources of kinematic information different from those used by nonexperts (Abernethy, Gill, Parks, & Packer, 2001; Müller, Abernethy, & Farrow, 2006). The accurate perception of advance information facilitates enhanced interceptive performance in skilled athletes by allowing the athlete's own interceptive movements to be initiated earlier (Shim, Carlton, Chow, & Chae, 2005) and/ or at the most appropriate moment (Ranganathan & Carlton, 2007). This allows for the apparently unhurried movements that characterize expert performance (cf. Bartlett, 1947) and, importantly, for outcomes compatible with the goal of the task (Mann, Abernethy, & Farrow, 2010; Renshaw, Oldham, Davids, & Golds, 2007).

Although a substantial body of knowledge has been developed to better understand skilled anticipation, a considerable proportion of this evidence is based on tasks that require athletes to make highly perceptual predictions of an event outcome rather than examining the movement requirements and constraints that coexist within the natural performance environment. As a result, rather than more appropriately examining tasks that engage visual processing via the dorsal (vision-for-action) pathway, some authors (e.g., van der Kamp, Rivas, van Doorn, & Savelsbergh, 2008) have proposed that the majority of the literature examining anticipation has been based on assessments of the ventral (vision-for-perception) pathway. The dorsal pathway is believed to be specifically responsible for the online control of interceptive actions (see Milner & Goodale, 1995), like those that occur in the natural setting for most interceptive sports. …

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