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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Nov;104(4):625-31. doi: 10.1007/s00421-008-0811-x. Epub 2008 Jul 8.

Cortical activity of skilled performance in a complex sports related motor task.

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Department Exercise and Health, University of Paderborn Institute of Sport Medicine, Warburger Strasse 100, Paderborn, Germany.


A skilled player in goal-directed sports performance has the ability to process internal and external information in an effective manner and decide which pieces of information are important and which are irrelevant. Focused attention and somatosensory information processing play a crucial role in this process. Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings are able to demonstrate cortical changes in conjunction with this concept and were examined during a golf putting performance in an expert-novice paradigm. The success in putting (score) and performance-related cortical activity were recorded with an EEG during a 5 x 4 min putting series. Subjects were asked to putt balls for four min at their own pace. The EEG data was divided into different frequencies: Theta (4.75-6.75 Hz), Alpha-1 (7-9.5 Hz), Alpha-2 (9.75-12.5 Hz) and Beta-1 (12.75-18.5 Hz) and performance related power values were calculated. Statistical analysis shows significant better performance in the expert golfers (P < 0.001). This was associated with higher fronto-midline Theta power (P < 0.05) and higher parietal Alpha-2 power values (P < 0.05) compared to the novices in golf putting. Frontal Theta and parietal Alpha-2 spectral power in the ongoing EEG demonstrate differences due to skill level. Furthermore the findings suggest that with increasing skill level, golfers have developed task solving strategies including focussed attention and an economy in parietal sensory information processing which lead to more successful performance. In a theoretical framework both cortical parameters may play a role in the concept of the working memory.

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