"Neural efficiency" of experts' brain during judgment of actions: A high-resolution EEG study in elite and amateur karate athletes

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.
Behavioural brain research (Impact Factor: 3.03). 11/2009; 207(2):466-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2009.10.034
Source: PubMed


Here we tested two working hypotheses on spatially selective cortical activation ("neural efficiency") in experts: (i) compared to non-athletes, elite karate athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during the judgment of karate actions; (ii) compared to non-athletes and elite karate athletes, amateur karate athletes are characterized by an intermediate cortical activation during the judgment of karate actions. Electroencephalographic (EEG) data were recorded in 16 elite karate athletes, 15 amateur athletes and 17 non-athletes. They observed a series of 120 karate videos. At the end of each video, the subjects had to judge the technical/athletic level of the exercise by a scale from 0 to 10. The mismatch between their judgment and that of the coach indexed the degree of action judgment. The EEG cortical sources were estimated by sLORETA. With reference to a pre-stimulus period, the power decrease of alpha (8-12 Hz) rhythms during the video indexed the cortical activation (event-related desynchronization, ERD). Regarding the hypothesis of reduced activity in elite karate athletes, low- and high-frequency alpha ERD was less pronounced in dorsal and "mirror" pathways in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes. Regarding the hypothesis of intermediate cortical activity in amateur karate athletes, low- and high-frequency alpha ERD was less pronounced in dorsal pathways across the non-athletes, the amateur karate athletes, and the elite karate athletes. In conclusion, athletes' judgment of observed sporting actions is related to less pronounced alpha ERD, as a possible index of "neural efficiency" in experts engaged in social cognition.

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Available from: Giulia Rizza, Jul 28, 2015
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    • "postulates a more efficient cortical function in skilled subjects as compared to individuals with poor performance when they are performing a motor or cognitive task. Many examples supporting this hypothesis can be found in the scientific literature (Neubauer and Fink 2003; Del Percio et al. 2008, 2009; Babiloni et al. 2010). Given these findings, this study will be focused on the alpha band. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The analysis of the brain activity during balance is an important topic in different science fields. Given that all measurements involve an error that is caused by different agents, like the instrument, the researcher, or the natural human variability, a test-retest reliability evaluation of the electroencephalographic assessment is a needed starting point. However, there is a lack of information about the reliability of electroencephalographic measurements, especially in a new wireless device with dry electrodes. Objective: The current study aims to analyze the reliability of electroencephalographic measurements from a wireless device using dry electrodes during two different balance tests. Method: Seventeen healthy male volunteers performed two different static balance tasks on a Biodex Balance Platform: a) with two feet on the platform, and b) with one foot on the platform. Electroencephalographic data was recorded by using Enobio (Neuroelectrics). The mean power spectrum of the alpha band of the central and frontal channels were calculated. Relative and absolute indices of reliability were also calculated. Results: In general terms, the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) values of all the assessed channels can be classified as excellent (>.90). The percentage Standard Error of Measurement oscillated from 0.54% to 1.02% and the percentage Smallest Real Difference ranged from 1.50% to 2.82%. Conclusion: Electroencephalographic assessment through Enobio device during balance tasks has an excellent reliability. However, its utility was not demonstrated because responsiveness was not assessed.
    Somatosensory and Motor Research 09/2015; DOI:10.3109/08990220.2015.1074566 · 0.64 Impact Factor
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    • "Several reports present evidence of neural efficiency [3] [4] [17], where expert judgement or improved skill results in comparatively less cortical activation, as measured by EEG. Synchronisation. "
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    ABSTRACT: The psychophysiological method can be used to detect some simple cognitive states such as arousal, attentiveness, or mental workload. This approach can be especially interesting when cognition has some productive purpose, as in knowledge work, and tends to be related to human-computer interaction (HCI). However more interesting for applied purposes are acts of coordinated high-level cognition. High- level (or higher-order) cognition (HLC) is typically associated with decision making, problem solving, and executive control of cognition and action. Further, an intuitive approach for assessing whether someone is engaged in HLC is to measure their performance of a known task. Given this, it is reasonable to define high-performance cognition (HPC) as HLC under some performance restriction, such as real-time pressure or expert skill level. Such states are also interesting for HCI in work, and their detection represents an ambitious aim for using the psychophysiological method. We report a brief review of the literature on the topic.
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    • "Cochin et al. [27] have found stronger alpha band desynchronization in the left hemisphere, mainly over central electrodes and alpha band desynchronization has also been reported to be stronger during the observation of transitive movements [28] [29], and it seems to show gender differences too [30]. On the other hand, there is evidence suggesting that less alpha ERD could be an index of " neural efficiency " in sport experts [31]. Similar patterns of ERD have been described for beta band during AO and modulated by a participant's expertise [24] [26]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Motor imagery (MI) and action observation (AO) are considered effective cognitive tools for motor learning, but little work directly compared their cortical activation correlate in relation with subsequent performance. We compared AO and MI in promoting early learning of a complex four-limb, hand-foot coordination task, using electroencephalographic (EEG) and kinematic analysis. Thirty healthy subjects were randomly assigned into three groups to perform a training period in which AO watched a video of the task, MI had to imagine it, and Control (C) was involved in a distracting computation task. Subjects were then asked to actually perform the motor task with kinematic measurement of error time with respect to the correct motor performance. EEG was recorded during baseline, training and task execution, with task-related power (TRPow) calculation for sensorimotor (alpha and beta) rhythms reactive with respect to rest. During training, the AO group had a stronger alpha desynchronization than the MI and C over frontocentral and bilateral parietal areas. However, during task execution, AO group had greater beta synchronization over bilateral parietal regions than MI and C groups. This beta synchrony furthermore demonstrated the strongest association with kinematic errors, which was also significantly lower in AO than in MI. These data suggest that sensorimotor activation elicited by action observation enhanced motor learning according to motor performance, corresponding to a more efficient activation of cortical resources during task execution. Action observation may be more effective than motor imagery in promoting early learning of a new complex coordination task. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
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