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Cogn Process. 2011 Aug;12(3):267-76. doi: 10.1007/s10339-011-0395-y. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Effect of narrowing the base of support on the gait, gaze and quiet eye of elite ballet dancers and controls.

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Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


We determined the gaze and stepping behaviours of elite ballet dancers and controls as they walked normally and along progressively narrower 3-m lines (l0.0, 2.5 cm). The ballet dancers delayed the first step and then stepped more quickly through the approach area and onto the lines, which they exited more slowly than the controls, which stepped immediately but then slowed their gait to navigate the line, which they exited faster. Contrary to predictions, the ballet group did not step more precisely, perhaps due to the unique anatomical requirements of ballet dance and/or due to releasing the degrees of freedom under their feet as they fixated ahead more than the controls. The ballet group used significantly fewer fixations of longer duration, and their final quiet eye (QE) duration prior to stepping on the line was significantly longer (2,353.39 ms) than the controls (1,327.64 ms). The control group favoured a proximal gaze strategy allocating 73.33% of their QE fixations to the line/off the line and 26.66% to the exit/visual straight ahead (VSA), while the ballet group favoured a 'look-ahead' strategy allocating 55.49% of their QE fixations to the exit/VSA and 44.51% on the line/off the line. The results are discussed in the light of the development of expertise and the enhanced role of fixations and visual attention when more tasks become more constrained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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