Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Effects of Sport Expertise on Representational Momentum during Timing Control

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Effects of Sport Expertise on Representational Momentum during Timing Control

Article excerpt

Published online: 25 December 2014

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Sports involving fast visual perception require players to compensate for delays in neural processing of visual information. Memory for the final position of a moving object is distorted forward along its path of motion (i.e., "representational momentum," RM). This cognitive extrapolation of visual perception might compensate for the neural delay in interacting appropriately with a moving object. The present study examined whether experienced batters cognitively extrapolate the location of a fast-moving object and whether this extrapolation is associated with coincident timing control. Nine expert and nine novice baseball players performed a prediction motion task in which a target moved from one end of a straight 400-cm track at a constant velocity. In half of the trials, vision was suddenly occluded when the target reached the 200-cm point (occlusion condition). Participants had to press a button concurrently with the target arrival at the end of the track and verbally report their subjective assessment of the first target-occluded position. Experts showed larger RM magnitude (cognitive extrapolation) than did novices in the occlusion condition. RM magnitude and timing errors were strongly correlated in the fast velocity condition in both experts and novices, whereas in the slow velocity condition, a significant correlation appeared only in experts. This suggests that experts can cognitively extrapolate the location of a moving object according to their anticipation and, as a result, potentially circumvent neural processing delays. This process might be used to control response timing when interacting with moving objects.

Keywords Representational momentum . Sport expertise . Visuo-motor control


How a moving object is processed, and how the processed information is used for motor control of intercepting (e.g., catching, hitting) the moving object, is a major concern in understanding the human visuo-motor system. The visual system has some limitations, particularly concerning good performance in sports requiring fast visual perception (e.g., baseball and tennis).

One limitation of the visual system is neural delay, that is, the time interval between stimulation and resultant change in neural activity at the relevant brain site (Nijhawan, 2008; Zago, McIntyre, Senot, & Lacquaniti, 2009). The initial stages of visual processing may necessarily incur a delay greater than tens of milliseconds, which may induce an error between the physical position of an object and its perceived position: more than4ft(1.2m)foratennisballtravellingat60mph (96.6 kph), and 13.2 ft (4.02 m) for a cricket ball traveling at 90 mph (144.84 kph) (Nijhawan, 2008; Nijhawan & Wu, 2009). Another primary limitation relates to our visual hardware. For instance, Hubbard and Seng (1954) reported that the line of gaze for professional baseball batters is decoupled from the ball 240 ms prior to bat-ball contact. This is because the angular velocity of the pitched ball exceeds the limit of angular velocity of pursuit eye movement (see also in other sports, Croft, Button, & Dicks, 2010;Lee,2010;Ripoll&Fleurance, 1988; Singer, Williams, Frehlich, Janelle, Radlo, Barba, & Bouchard, 1998). A large anticipatory saccade is thus needed to shift gaze direction along the anticipated trajectory of a pitched ball until the point of bat-ball contact (Bahill & LaRitz, 1984; Land & McLeod, 2000; Ripoll & Fleurance, 1988; Singer et al., 1998). During saccadic eye movement, visual information is suppressed and/or degraded (Campbell & Wurtz, 1978; Volkmann, Schick, & Riggs, 1968).

Therefore, at least physically, no batter is able to obtain the correct information of the real ball position due to neural processing delays and limits to visual hardware. Nonetheless, timing control in the interception of a fast-moving object is often accurate and does not lag behind the real-world object position. …

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