Project

Cognition, perception, and action under psychological pressure

Goal: Project goal is to clarify the underlying mechanisms of motor performance under pressure. We are interested in cognition such as risk take, risk averse, and ironic process. The relationship environmental perception and action is also investigated. Neurophysiological study by using TMS and tDCS has been conducting to clarify cortical and spinal excitability under pressure.

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Project log

Yoshifumi Tanaka
added a research item
The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of attentional shifts and pressure on movement fluency in a perceptual and single-joint movement task. Participants (N = 24) moved an arm lever in an attempt to trace a spatiotemporal movement target on a computer display. They performed 100 acquisition trials followed by 20 test trials. For the test, the participants were randomly divided into the conscious processing group (n = 8), the distraction group (n = 8), or the pressure group (n = 8). For any test trials, the amplitude of the original movement pattern of the conscious processing group was enlarged to 130%. Furthermore, participants in the conscious processing group were instructed to be conscious of their arm movements in order to be aware of the enlarged trials. In the test, the distraction group performed a secondary task, which consisted in pressing a button as quickly as possible. The other group performed the test under pressure, which was induced by informing them that they would receive a cash reward or an electric stimulus contingent on their performance. The root mean squared error (RMSE) was measured as an index of performance, and the mean power frequency (MPF) of movement velocity was measured as an index of the movement fluency of the perceptual and single-joint movement task. In the distraction group alone, the RMSE increased from the last phase of acquisition to the test. In addition, the MPF of the processing resource shortage group decreased from the last phase of acquisition to the test. These findings indicated that the attentional shift resulting from a shortage of processing resources limited feedback control and led to a decrement in the performance of the perceptual motor skill.
Yoshifumi Tanaka
added 2 research items
The effects of psychological pressure on perceiving the height of a jump bar just before starting a high jump run was investigated. University students (n = 14) training for a high jump event performed 15 trials (3 practice, 6 high-pressure, and 6 low-pressure) in counterbalanced order in their daily practice environment. The height of the bar was judged as significantly higher on high-pressure trials compared to low-pressure trials (p = 0.030). A regression analysis indicated that participants who reported increased subjective perceived pressure tended to judge the bar to be higher (r = 0.468, p = 0.091). There was no significant difference between high-pressure and low-pressure trials for the performance index, defined as the success rate (p = 0.209). This study provides the first evidence that environmental perceptions prior to executing a motor task under pressure may make performance of the task appear to be more difficult.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics of whole-body movement under pressure. The study participants, who were right-handed male university students (N=16), performed "tomeken ," which is a bilboquet technique, for 300 acquisition trials followed by 15 test trials. In the test, a small audience observed participants who had been informed that they could receive a performance-contingent money reward. The results showed that, in this study, a modest level of psychological stress was induced, as the average of the state anxiety scores increased (p <.001), whereas the average of the heart rates did not. Although the performance of "tomeken " improved during acquisition (p <.05), it was not hindered in the test. A two-dimensional analysis of the movement revealed that some measures reflecting variability of elbow and knee movements decreased from the last phase of acquisition to the test. In addition, a difference between the timing of knee flexion and the timing of elbow extension in the ball-catching phase decreased (p <.05). No change was found for the electromyography activities of upper-arm muscles. These results suggested that a modest level of psychological stress, which did not lead to change in performance, could modify the movement variability and timing coordination of upper and lower limbs in whole-body movement.
Yoshifumi Tanaka
added 2 research items
The effects of psychological pressure on perceiving the height of a jump bar just before starting a high jump run was investigated. University students (N = 14) training for a high jump event performed 15 trials (3 practice, 6 pressure, and 6 non-pressure) in counterbalanced order in their daily practice environment. The height of the bar was judged as significantly higher on pressure trials compared to non-pressure trials. A regression analysis indicated that participants who reported increased subjective perceived pressure tended to judge the bar to be higher. There was no significant difference between pressure and non-pressure trials for the performance index, defined as the success rate. This study provides the first evidence that environmental perceptions prior to executing a motor task under pressure may make performance of the task appear to be more difficult.
Motor behavior couples with several types of environmental information perceived by actors. The phenomenon by which perceptions are distorted by the psychological state of an actor, including motivation, desire, and anxiety, is known as dynamic perception, and many athletes experience this under the psychological pressure of competition. The effects of pressure on the perception of target size before (pre-performance judgement) and after (post-performance judgement) a dart-throwing task and the relationship between size perception and performance outcome in the task were investigated experimentally. Healthy novice female university students (N=20) participated in the experiment. Pressure manipulations included performance contingent competitive cash rewards and comparative others. The results indicated that psychological and physiological stress responses were successfully induced, as indexed by significant increases in state anxiety and heart rate under pressure. Moreover, there were no significant differences in pre- and post-performance size perception between pressure and nonpressure conditions in all participants. However, participants with reduced throwing accuracy under pressure, as compared with non-pressure, perceived the target to be smaller under pressure in post-performance judgement. It is possible that attentional change including conscious processing and distraction, as well as kinematic changes, led to a decrement of motor skills performance that might have caused perceptual distortion under pressure. Exploratory multiple regression analysis to identify factors leading to perceptual distortions of target size under pressure indicated that participants reporting larger trait anxiety judged the target to be smaller in only preperformance judgement.
Yoshifumi Tanaka
added a research item
Decrement in performance under psychological pressure (i.e., choking) is a major concern for athletes and coaches. Most athletes therefore must cope with psychological, physiological, behavioral, and performance related symptoms that occur under pressure. Firstly, we reviewed investigations and intervention studies on coping with choking with respect to several different motor skills of athletes, musicians, and speakers. Then, we focused on intervention studies that have used performance routines for against choking. These studies have investigated the effects of pre- and post-performance routines on motor performance under pressure. We concluded that many athletes, musicians, and speakers practice cognitive and behavioral coping skills. Furthermore, performance routines lead to the development of effective skills, resulting in optimal cognitions and performance under pressure. It is suggested that future studies be conducted in different fields to examine the detailed effects of practicing coping methods against choking.
Yoshifumi Tanaka
added 18 research items
The first purpose of this doctoral thesis was to investigate the behavioral aspect, such as kinematics and kinetics, of the performance of a motor skill under pressure. The second was to investigate the relationships among psychological aspect (attentional focuses), physiological aspect (arousal), and behavioral aspect (kinematics and kinetics) under pressure. The golf putting tasks were used in this thesis. This thesis was consisted of four experiments. Experiment 1 investigated changes in movement kinematics and attentional focuses when expert and novice golfers performed a golf putting task under pressure. A twodimensional analysis of movement kinematics revealed that, under pressure, the amplitudes of arm and club movements decreased on the backswing. Speed of arm and club movements decreased on the foreswing, in both experts and novices. Furthermore, neither experts nor novices changed their attentional focus under pressure. Experimental 2 showed the same kinematic changes of Experiment 1 when novices performed a golf putting task under pressure. However, the EMG activity of the flexor carpiulnaris muscle and the extensor carpi radialis muscle of the right forearm showed no significant changes under pressure. Furthermore, performance decrements under pressure were caused by high inter-trial variability of the clubmovement amplitudes during backswing and angular displacement of the right wrist during downswing. Experiment 3-1 indicated that the conscious control of movements under pressure increased movement variability and resulted in inconsistent ball locations. In addition, the distraction under pressure led to smaller and slower movements, but the increment of HR under pressure led to faster movements. Furthermore, experiment 3-2 indicated that a significant correlation between the increment of HR and the increased movement acceleration under pressure. Whereas the previous studies have explained the choking phenomenon from different viewpoints related to attentional changes, such as the conscious control of movements and the distraction, these results of this doctoral thesis suggested that different attentional shifts under pressure are related to different kinematic changes. In addition, the kinematic changes under pressure were possibly caused by the influences of strategy modification and/or emotional response.
Yoshifumi Tanaka
added 2 research items
This study investigated the effect of psychological pressure on spinal reflex excitability. Thirteen participants performed a balancing task by standing on a balance disk with one foot. After six practice trials, they performed one non-pressure and one pressure trial involving a performance-contingent cash reward or punishment. Stress responses were successfully induced; state anxiety, mental effort, and heart rates all increased under pressure. Soleus Hoffmann reflex amplitude in the pressure trial was significantly smaller than in the non-pressure trial. This modification of spinal reflexes may be caused by presynaptic inhibition under the control of higher central nerve excitation under pressure. This change did not prevent 12 of the 13 participants from successfully completing the postural control task under pressure. These results suggest that Hoffmann reflex inhibition would contribute to optimal postural control under stressful situations.
The effects of psychological pressure on corticospinal excitability and muscular activity were investigated in a two-choice reaction task that involved voluntary right index finger movements. In order to induce pressure, participants were given instructions that combined a performance-contingent cash reward, a penalty, and performance comparisons. Following practice, 11 participants performed 40 non-pressure and 40 pressure trials. Results showed successful stress induction, as indexed by significant increases in state anxiety, pulse rate, and galvanic skin response under pressure. Significant increases in the amplitude of the motor evoked potential of the right abductor pollicis brevis (APB) occurred under pressure. The maximum EMG amplitudes of APB and the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle also increased significantly under pressure. These results suggest that descending excitatory volleys in the corticospinal motor tract during the motor preparation processes and peripheral motor unit activities in the reaction task are both separately excited by stress responses under pressure. Reaction times measured by EMG onset of the FDI were unchanged in accordance with corticospinal and EMG excitations under pressure, indicating generation of inefficient motor control energy for movement output.
Yoshifumi Tanaka
added a project goal
Project goal is to clarify the underlying mechanisms of motor performance under pressure. We are interested in cognition such as risk take, risk averse, and ironic process. The relationship environmental perception and action is also investigated. Neurophysiological study by using TMS and tDCS has been conducting to clarify cortical and spinal excitability under pressure.