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Professional athletes have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning complex and neutral dynamic visual scenes


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Evidence suggests that an athlete's sports-related perceptual-cognitive expertise is a crucial element of top-level competitive sports1. When directly assessing whether such experience-related abilities correspond to fundamental and non-specific cognitive laboratory measures such as processing speed and attention, studies have shown moderate effects leading to the conclusion that their special abilities are context-specific2. We trained 308 observers on a complex dynamic visual scene task void of context and motor control requirements3 and demonstrate that professionals as a group dramatically differ from high-level amateur athletes, who dramatically differ from non-athlete university students in their capacity to learn such stimuli. This demonstrates that a distinguishing factor explaining the capacities of professional athletes is their ability to learn how to process complex dynamic visual scenes. This gives us an insight as to what is so special about the elite athletes' mental abilities, which allows them to express great prowess in action.
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Professional athletes have extraordinary
skills for rapidly learning complex and
neutral dynamic visual scenes
Jocelyn Faubert
NSERC-Essilor Industrial Research Chair, Visual Psychophysics and Perception Laboratory, School of Optometry, University of
Evidence suggests that an athlete’s sports-related perceptual-cognitive expertise is a crucial element of
top-level competitive sports
. When directly assessing whether such experience-related abilities correspond to
fundamental and non-specific cognitive laboratory measures such as processing speed and attention, studies
have shown moderate effects leading to the conclusion that their special abilities are context-specific
trained 308 observers on a complex dynamic visual scene task void of context and motor control
and demonstrate that professionals as a group dramatically differ from high-level amateur
athletes, who dramatically differ from non-athlete university students in their capacity to learn such stimuli.
This demonstrates that a distinguishing factor explaining the capacities of professional athletes is their ability
to learn how to process complex dynamic visual scenes. This gives us an insight as to what is so special about
the elite athletes’ mental abilities, which allows them to express great prowess in action.
hat makes elite athletes so special? Do brains of athletes anatomically and functionally differ from
non-athletes and does this diff erence relate to performance level? A recent paper showed that
high-level athletes have increased cortical thickness in a few areas of the brain and that this
increased anatomical vol ume is correlated with the level of athletic training
. One of the areas identified
in the athlete brain as different from controls was the superior temporal sulcus (STS), which plays a
particular role in socially relevant stimuli
and biological motion perception
. Biologic al motion perception
involves the visual systems’ capacity to recognize complex human movements when they are presented as a
pattern of a few moving dots. This task is recognized as a critical and fundamen tal abil ity of social relev ance
and is a very strong dynamic cue that can be used for collision avoidance
and anti cipate opponents’
movements in sports
. Th is is further supported by a recen t study showing that athletes may be superior
to non-athletes for processing soci ally realistic multitasking crowd scenes involving pedestrians crossing
. The superi or abilities of high-level athletes for sports specifi c and socially realistic scenes both
correspond to stimuli to whi ch athletes have been extensively exposed throu ghout their lifespan. We are still
lacking strong evidence that such abil ities represent fundamental perceptual-cognitive abilities that would be
expressed in laboratory measures void of social or contextual content
The 3-dimensional multiple-object-tracking speed threshold task (3D-MOT) was recently proposed as an
optimal training procedure for isolating critical mental abilities when processing dynamic scenes such as when
navigating in traffic or during sports activities
. The method relies on particular features suggested to be fun-
damental such as; 1) distributing attention among a number of moving targets among distractors, known in the
literature as Multiple Object Tracking
, 2) a large visual field 3) speed thresholds, and 4) binocular 3-dimen-
sional cues (3D) (i.e. stereoscopic vision). The rationale for using such conditions has been described in detail
. We tested a total of 308 individuals separated into three distinct groups based on their performance
levels in sports to determine whether the level of sports performance can distinguish the learning rate capacities
for this complex and neutral visual scene task.
A total of 102 professional players (mean age 5 23,8 6 5,5 SD, median 22) from three different sports including
51 professional soccer players (English Premier League (EPL)), 21 professional ice hockey players (National
10 December 2012
7 January 2013
31 January 2013
Correspondence and
requests for materials
should be addressed to
J.F. (jocelyn.faubert@
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS | 3 : 1154 | DOI: 10.1038/srep01154 1
Hockey League (NHL)) and 30 professional rugby players (French
Top 14 Rugby League (Top14)). We also tested a total of 173 elite
amateurs (mean age 5 23,5 6 5,8 SD, median 22) with 136 from the
NCAA university sports program in the US and 37 from a European
Olympic sport-training center. We have also tested 33 non-athlete
university students (mean age 5 23,8 6 5,0 SD, median 22) from the
de Montre
We have previously reported that, given identical conditions, top
professional soccer, ice hockey or rugby teams generate very similar
sensitivity profiles
. For this reason the professionals are presented as
a single population group. Similarly, we obtained identical functions
for our two amateur cohorts (NCAA and Olympic training center)
studied here so again, we show the elite amateurs as one group.
Figure 1 shows the session-by-session geometrical mean graphs
for the three groups with the session number on the x-axis and the
3D-MOT speed thresholds on a log y-axis. The fits shown are log
regression functions and the R
corresponds to the amount of vari-
ance explained by the fit. The data clearly show that the professional
athlete group starts at higher speed values with a much steeper learn-
ing slope as a function of training session then the elite amateurs. In
turn, the elite-amateur group starts at the same level as the non-
athletes but the learning function rapidly distances itself from the
one obtained for thenon-athlete university group. To emphasize the
learning rate differences between the groups, the small graph on the
right shows the normalized data (Log(sessions score) Log(initial
score)). One can see that the three learning rate functions are distinct
regardless of the initial starting point scores.
The present results show a clear distinction between the level of
athletic performance and corresponding fundamental mental
capacities for learning an abstract and demanding dynamic scene
task. How would this exceptional ability translate to specific real-life
situations? For athletes, it is obviously related to their high levels of
competitive sport performance. But what actions can we predict are
enhanced by such a specialised ability for learning dynamic complex
scenes? It would make logical sense that high-level athletes should
be superior for achieving biological motion perception skills for
instance. This is supported by the fact that cortical thickness of
STS, an area known to process socially relevant cues and biological
motion perception
, is greater and linked to training experience in
. In other populations such as healthy older observers it has
been shown that training with the 3D-MOT results in a direct sub-
sequent transfer benefit to biological motion perception abilities at
distances critical for collision avoidance
. The 3D-MOT speed task
strongly engages several attention and mental skills that should carry
over to other functions. To achieve high levels on this task one
requires exquisite selective, dynamic, distributed and sustained
attention skills for brief yet intense periods. Such abilities are cer-
tainly necessary when engaged in activities requiring the integration
of simultaneous inputs such as when driving, crossing busy streets or
when engaged in sporting activities. We have previously shown that
the condition of testing can influence the learning curve
. This was
demonstrated by the fact that if the professional players were stand-
ing as opposed sitting down for the initial consolidation training, the
growth curve was reduced, which argues for shared resources. It
remains to be determined whether this is specific to professional
athletes or whether it can also be observed in other populations, as
there clearly is something special about professional athletes. They
appear to be able to hyper-focus for short periods of time resulting in
extraordinary learning functions for the 3D-MOT task. We cannot
determine here whether this superb ability to learn to process
Figure 1
Geometrical 3D-MOT speed threshold means for 308 individuals on a log scale separated into professional, elite-amateur and
non-athlete university students as a function of training sessions. The y values are arbitrary speed units. Only 14 sessions are shown for the amateurs
because the protocol for the Olympic training center athletes was pre-set to terminate at 14 sessions. Error bars represent SEM.
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS | 3 : 1154 | DOI: 10.1038/srep01154 2
random and complex dynamic scenes has evolved by experience or
stems from an innate predisposition. Prospective outcomes of athlete
performance based on initial measures should prove very interesting
in the future. The 3D-MOT method has been used to profile athletes
for both the NHL and NFL combines where the best prospects for the
entry draft are evaluated on a series of test batteries. It will be inter-
esting to see whether these initial scores predict future performance
outcomes. It is clear that individual performances on this task will be
affected by many factors other than athletic skill including, sensory,
physical, and psychological makeup so we should not expect a direct
one to one relationship. It is clear that individual performances on
this task will be affected by many factors other than athletic skill
including, sensory, physical, and psychological makeup so we should
not expect a direct one to one relationship. Nevertheless, our results
do suggest that rapid learning in complex and unpredictable dyna-
mic contexts is one of the critical components for elite performance.
In conclusion, we have demonstrated that professional athletes as
a group have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning unpredictable,
complex dynamic visual scenes that are void of any specific context.
It is clear from these results that these remarkable mental processing
and learning abilities should be acknowledged as critical elements for
world-class performance in sport and potentially elite performance
abilities in other dynamic contexts.
The observers trained up to 15 sessions separated over a minimum of five different
days using the NeuroTracker
CORE program distributed by CogniSens Athletics
Inc., which is the commercial equivalent of the laboratory 3D-MOT speed threshold
procedure that has been licenced by CogniSens Athletics Inc. from the Universite
al. Each session lasted around 8 minutes and the subjects were not allowed to
train for more then three sessions in a given day. The basic 3-D MOT trial sequence is
presented in Figure 2 and comprises of 5 steps (see legend).
The size of the 3D volume space was 46 degrees of visual angle at the level of the
screen. After a single trial (Figure 2), if the subject got all 4 indexed spheres correct the
speed went up for the next trial. If at least one sphere was missed the speed slowed
down on the next trial (1 up 1 down staircase) so on and so forth until a threshold was
. All subjects gave the answers verbally and an experimenter recorded the
answers on a keyboard. This study was approved by the ethics board of the Universite
de Montre
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This work was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada discovery grant. I would like to thank Dr. Leonard Zaichkowsky for helpful
Author contributions
J.F. wrote the manuscript text, did the analysis and prepared the figures.
Additional information
Competitive financial interests: The author is director of the Visual Psychophysics and
Perception Laboratory at the University of Montreal and he is the Chief Science Officer of
CogniSens Athletics Inc. who produces the commercial version of the 3D-MOT used in this
study. In this capacity, he holds shares in the company.
License: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
License. To view a copy of this license, visit
How to cite this article: Faubert, J. Professional athletes haveextraordinaryskills for rapidly
learning complex and neutral dynamic visualscenes. Sci. Rep. 3, 1154; DOI:10.1038/
srep01154 (2013).
Figure 2
Five steps of the 3D-MOT task (a) presentation phase where 8 spheres are shown in a 3D volume space, (b) indexing phase where 4 spheres
(targets) change colour (red) and are highlighted (hallo) for 1 second, (c) movement phase where the targets indexed in stage b return to their original
form and colour and all spheres move for 8 seconds crisscrossing and bouncing off of each other and the virtual 3D volume cube walls that are not
otherwise visible, (d) identification phase where the spheres come to a halt and the observer has to identify the 4 spheres originally indexed in phase (b).
The spheres are individually tagged with a number so the observer can give the number corresponding to the original targets, and (e) feedback phase where
the subject is given information on the correct targets.
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS | 3 : 1154 | DOI: 10.1038/srep01154 3
... The negative effect of mental fatigue on physical performance is well-documented (Giboin & Wolff, 2019), affecting crucial aspects of sports performance such as endurance, tactical and technical, and executive function (Smith et al., 2018;Van-Cutsem et al., 2017). Then, cognitive effort control is crucial for success in high-level team sports once players must maintain endurance and perceptual-cognitive skill performance for prolonged periods during training (e.g., a 40-min endurance training with high visual attention) (Bigliassi, 2021;Faubert, 2013) and matches (e.g., a 90-min soccer match) (Fortes et al., 2021;Gantois et al., 2020). However, cognitive effort seems to impair the cognitive interference control system (André et al., 2019;Angius et al., 2022), reducing athletes' physical and cognitive performance. ...
... The MOT is software under the NeuroTracker™ system licensed by the University of Montreal (CogniSens Inc.; Montreal, QC, Canada) that measures visual tracking threefold speed and score (percentage of accuracy). The MOT task was chosen because it has been proposed as an optimal training procedure for isolating critical mental abilities when processing dynamic scenes, such as during sports activities (Faubert, 2013;Faubert & Sidebottom, 2012). The ability to track multiple elements (including teammates, opponents, and the ball or puck) is a capacity that is highly desirable in team sports and, in particular, for soccer. ...
... Only a 40-min endurance training session with a cognitive task was sufficient for the impairment threshold speed in MOT skill after the session. Furthermore, repeated MOT tasks (e.g., throughout the 40-min) require sustained peripheral attention, increasing the attentional load (Faubert, 2013), and probably increasing the cognitive load. This study's cognitive RPE findings corroborate this hypothesis (i.e., endurance + MOT and endurance + MOT + AD). ...
Background: Throughout official soccer matches, the presence of cheer by the crowd could be considered a critical auditive distraction that could further impair the cognitive interference control system, multiple object tracking (MOT) skill, heart rate variability (HRV), and increase mental fatigue. As the resource is not immediately replenished, the impairment of the cognitive interference control system may be delayed following a soccer game. Then, evaluating the recovery time course of the cognitive interference control system, MOT skill, HRV, and mental fatigue after prolonged tasks combining physical, endurance, and cognitive effort are essential. Purpose: We aimed to analyze the acute effect of cognitive effort and auditive distractor with 24-h follow-up throughout a prolonged endurance session on inhibitory control, subjective mental fatigue, MOT skill, and HRV in professional soccer players. Methods: Twenty professional male soccer players were recruited (23.56 ± 3.8 years, 78.1 ± 6.9 kg, 1.77 ± 0.06 m, and 12.5 ± 5.3% body fat). The sessions were performed in a randomized and counterbalanced crossover design, divided into four experimental conditions: endurance, endurance + MOT, endurance + MOT + AD, and endurance + AD. The soccer players completed the incongruent Stroop task utilizing an eye-tracker to assess cognitive effort. MOT task, subjective mental fatigue, and HRV were evaluated before the endurance training (60%Δ of maximal aerobic velocity during 40-min) and after 30-min and 24-h of recovery. These sessions were designed to investigate the acute effect of prolonged cognitive effort (repeated MOT throughout the endurance task) and AD (constant crowd noise and coach's voice each 15-40 s, totalizing = 80 voices) on inhibitory control, MOT skills, HRV, and subjective mental fatigue after a fixed endurance training session. Results: There was no condition × time interaction for accuracy of inhibitory control (p > 0.05, ηp2 = 0.001). There was a significant condition × time interaction for inhibitory control response time (p < 0.05, ηp2 = 0.16). A higher response time of inhibitory control was found for the endurance + MOT + AD and endurance + MOT experimental sessions (p < 0.05). There was a significant condition × time interaction for subjective mental fatigue (p < 0.05, ηp2 = 0.46). A higher subjective mental fatigue was found for the endurance + MOT + AD and endurance + MOT experimental sessions (p < 0.05). There was no condition × time interaction for HRV (p > 0.05, ηp2 = 0.02). Conclusion: We concluded that cognitive effort throughout a prolonged endurance session impaired inhibitory control and increased mental fatigue without promoting greater MOT skill and HRV changes in professional soccer players.
... Relevantly, the MOT skill demands visuomotor and executive functions (i.e. inhibitory control, visual attention, and work memory) (Faubert, 2013), which stimulate many brain networks that work together during cognitive tasks in soccer matches, including complex motion integration, dynamic, sustained, distributed attention processing, and working memory (Gonzaga et al., 2014). Furthermore, anticipation skills are related to MOT ability (Smith & Mitroff, 2014). ...
... The results of interaction effects at present study for threshold speed and score for MOT skill were marginals. Despite of 3D-MOT be a software program recommended by previous studies (Faubert, 2013;Faubert & Sidebottom, 2012), maybe it is not a sensitive measure to visuomotor system changes from stroboscopic vision training. So, it is suggested in future scientific studies for testing the effect of stroboscopic vision training on different variables about visuomotor system in team sport athletes, for example, peripheral perception-vision. ...
In this study we aimed to analyze the repeated effect of stroboscopic vision training on perceptual-cognitive skills in soccer players. A total of 28 male soccer players participated in this experimental and randomized study with parallel groups. The soccer players were pair- matched according to perceptual-cognitive skills and randomized into two groups: Stroboscopic vision training and Control. Multiple object tracking, anticipation, and decision making skills were measured before and after the 8-week intervention. An increase in multiple object tracking (p<0.05) and decision-making skills (p<0.05) from baseline to post experiment was found in both groups without main group effect (p>0.05). The findings showed an increase in anticipation skill from baseline to post-experiment in both groups (p<0.05), with higher anticipation skill for the stroboscopic group than in the control group post- experiment (p<0.05). Thus, we conclude that repeated stroboscopic vision training could 16 improve anticipation skill in soccer athletes.
... So, could this discrimination potentially be applied to talent identification in a sporting context? Faubert (2013) tested the NeuroTracker with professional athletes from various invasion team sports (hockey, soccer, rugby), amateur athletes and control participants. The study showed that the professional athletes are not only better at baseline sessions of NeuroTracker, but that they also present quicker improvement, as supported by steeper learning slopes. ...
... Accordingly, the NeuroTracker was not found to be precise enough in predicting the very best players among a team of same-level elite athletes. Faubert (2013) reported differences between professional athletes, elite-amateur athletes, and non-athletes on the NeuroTracker baseline score and on learning slope. Since we searched for a practical use of the NeuroTracker in talent identification, we conducted the present study among elite athletes exclusively. ...
Purpose: The aim of this study is to verify if a single session on the NeuroTracker has predictive value in talent identification in ice hockey. Methods: Thirty-five male ice hockey players (aged 16-20) from the highest Canadian competition level for that age group participated in the study. A battery of tests (attention, working memory, time reproduction, pattern recognition, temporal equivalence, technical ability, and decision-making) was administered to verify the relation between various cognitive abilities, on-ice performance, and the baseline score on the NeuroTracker, which is claimed to solicit multiple cognitive functions. On-ice performance indicators were game-related statistics: games played, points (mean per game), on-ice goals differential, and draft rank. Results: Results show that the baseline score on the NeuroTracker is not associated with draft ranking, nor is it able to predict which players will perform best based on game-related statistics. However, the NeuroTracker baseline score does correlate with various tests involving working memory and attention. Conclusion: Currently, NeuroTracker is not specific enough to allow talent identification among same-level elite athletes in ice hockey.
... The STS involves the perception of biological motion [17]. Faubert reported that professional athletes could learn to process complex dynamic visual scenes compared to amateur athletes [18]. Thus, professional athletes may show different results between the binocular and monocular conditions in archery. ...
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Purpose This study aimed to evaluate the difference between binocular and monocular vision and eye movements during the competition using video-oculography (VOG). Methods Experiment 1 included 14 participants to evaluate differences in arrow convergence. Then, seven participants in Experiment 1 were randomly selected and included in Experiment 2, which evaluated eye movements during archery using VOG. The target used an 80-cm waterproof target face and was set at a distance of 30 m. All players shot the target 36 times using their bows and arrows. Experiments 1 and 2 evaluated the distribution of arrows in each score and the number of focus points, respectively, between binocular and monocular conditions. Results The arrows, which include the area of 9 points, were significantly greater in the binocular condition (11.85 ± 5.04 shots) than in the monocular condition (9.36 ± 5.41 shots) in Experiment 1 ( P = 0.047). The players focused on the target under both binocular and monocular conditions, although the players were switching off fixation between the target and shooting sight under the binocular condition in Experiment 2. Conclusion These behaviors indicated that the players were trying to accurately shoot the target by exploring the distance between themselves and the target as a cue for depth perception.
... Professionalization has been shown to be a relevant element when motor brain activity is the subject of study. For instance, professional athletes learn complex dynamic visual scenes better than non-athletes do (Faubert, 2013), and professional racing-car drivers show an increased neural efficiency in brain circuits as compared with naïve drivers (Bernardi et al., 2013). Furthermore, evidence has been found regarding music expertise, including that brain structures differ between musicians and non-musicians (Gaser and Schlaug, 2003), piano players seem to need more-reduced neuronal networks than control subjects to activate the same movements (Krings et al., 2000), musical training has been associated with an altered processing of negative emotions (Park et al., 2014), and professional musicians show more-focused cerebral activations in the contralateral primary sensorimotor cortex (Lotze et al., 2003). ...
Full-text available
To watch a person doing an activity has an impact on the viewer. In fact, the film industry hinges on viewers looking at characters doing all sorts of narrative activities. From previous works, we know that media and non-media professionals perceive differently audiovisuals with cuts. Media professionals present a lower eye-blink rate, a lower activity in frontal and central cortical areas, and a more organized functional brain connectivity when watching audiovisual cuts. Here, we aimed to determine how audiovisuals with no formal interruptions such as cuts were perceived by media and non-media professionals. Moreover, we wondered how motor actions of characters in films would have an impact on the brain activities of the two groups of observers. We presented a narrative with 24 motor actions in a one-shot movie in wide shot with no cuts to 40 participants. We recorded the electroencephalographic (EEG) activity of the participants and analyzed it for the periods corresponding to the 24 motor actions (24 actions × 40 participants = 960 potential trials). In accordance with collected results, we observed differences in the EEG activity of the left primary motor cortex. A spectral analysis of recorded EEG traces indicated the presence of significant differences in the beta band between the two groups after the onset of the motor activities, while no such differences were found in the alpha band. We concluded that media expertise is related with the beta band identified in the EEG activity of the left primary motor cortex and the observation of motor actions in videos.
Background Visual attention plays a crucial role in daily living and in sports, affecting an athlete’s performance and thus, potentially, the outcome of a match. However, studies assessing the association between the level of sports expertise and visual attention have yielded mixed results. This study was conducted to examine whether visual attention could be developed with increased sports expertise, and whether visual attention differed between male athletes and female athletes. Methods A total of 128 participants were included in this study: 64 first-level national soccer athletes recruited from college soccer teams (considered elite athletes; 32 men and 32 women with similar soccer performance requirements and training experience), and 64 physical education college students with limited soccer experience (considered novice athletes; 32 men and 32 women with matched soccer experience). To assess visual attention, we used a multiple object tracking (MOT) task with four targets among a total of 10 objects moving at a fixed speed of 10°/s in random directions across a computer monitor screen. Tracking accuracy on the MOT task was calculated for each participant as the proportion of correctly selected targets. A univariate analysis of variance was performed, with group (expert, novice) and sex (male, female) as independent variables, and tracking accuracy on the MOT task as the dependent variable to assess whether sports expertise or sex influenced visual attention. Simple effects tests followed by comparisons with Bonferroni corrections were used, and effect size calculations were performed using Cohen’s f statistic. Results Tracking accuracy on the MOT task was significantly affected by sports expertise ( F (1,124) = 91.732, p < 0.001, η P ² = 0.425), with accuracy among expert soccer athletes superior to that among novice soccer athletes. Moreover, a statistically significant interaction between sports expertise and sex was detected ( F (1,124) = 7.046, p = 0.009, η P ² = 0.054). Better tracking performance was observed for male soccer players (mean [SD], 0.39 [0.12]) than for female soccer players (mean [SD], 0.27 [0.08]); p < 0.01; d =1.17; r = 0.51) but only in the novice group. No significant sex difference was detected in tracking performance between elite male soccer athletes (mean [SD], 0.51 [0.09]) and elite female soccer athletes (mean [SD], 0.49 [0.11]). Conclusion These findings confirm previous results indicating that long-term extensive sports training develops visual attention as assessed by MOT performance and extend previous findings to include soccer athletes. The findings of a sex difference in visual attention among novice soccer players but not among elite soccer athletes who had similar performance requirements and training experience suggest that long-term extensive training may minimize the sex difference in visual attention.
All over the world, sports professionals are interested in attracting new technologies to work-out sessions to increase sportsmanship. Literature reveals that EEG markers of cognitive function dynamics, sensorimotor integration, and psychological stability are important in assessing the functional state of athletes. In addition to a high level of physical fitness, elite athletes develop cognitive skills specific to a particular sport. Besides they demonstrate high sensorimotor integration, improved attention, perception and information processing and other characteristics ensuring high performance. The review systematically analyzes publications devoted to the correlation between physical activity and CNS functional state. It is established that indicators of EEG alpha rhythm power and frequency are significant neurophysiological markers of cognitive function state. These indicators contribute much to studying high- and low-intensity physical activity. The authors analyzed such databases as Medline, Web of Science, Scopus, Pubmed, Cochrane, Embase, Google Scholar, and eLIBRARY.
Many traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors face scheduling and transportation challenges when seeking therapeutic interventions. The COVID-19 pandemic created a shift in the use of at-home spaces for work, play, and research, inspiring the development of online therapeutic options. In the current study, we determined the feasibility of an at-home cognitive training tool (NeuroTrackerX) that uses anaglyph three-dimensional (3D) glasses and three-dimensional multiple object tracking (3D-MOT) software. We recruited 20 adults (10 female; mean age = 68.3 years, standard deviation [SD] = 6.75) as the at-home training group. We assessed cognitive health status for participants using a self-report questionnaire and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and all participants were deemed cognitively healthy (MMSE >26). At-home participants loaned the necessary equipment (e.g., 3D glasses, computer equipment) from the research facilities and engaged in 10 training sessions over 5 weeks (two times per week). Participant recruitment, retention, adherence, and experience were used as markers of feasibility. For program validation, 20 participants (10 female; mean age = 63.39 years, SD = 12.22), who had previously completed at least eight sessions of the in-lab 3D-MOT program, were randomly selected as the control group. We assessed individual session scores, overall improvement, and learning rates between groups. Program feasibility is supported by high recruitment and retention, 90% participant adherence, and participants' ease of use of the program. Validation of the program is supported. Groups showed no differences in session scores (p > 0.05) and percentage improvement (p > 0.05) despite the differences in screen size and 3D technology. Participants in both groups showed significant improvements in task performance across the training sessions (p < 0.001). NeuroTrackerX provides a promising at-home option for cognitive training in cognitively healthy adults and may be a promising avenue as an at-home therapeutic for TBI survivors. This abstract was previously published on and can be found at:
Highly trained team sports players possess highly developed visual attentional skills, compared with non-athletes. These athletes also have much better motor control than non-athletes. This study compared the performance of intensively trained handball players with non-athletes in a modified version of the multiple object tracking (MOT) task, in which participants were instructed to point at the moving targets with their fingers. We hypothesized that athletes will perform better in the MOT task than non-athletes, and that the increased visual attentional load in the MOT task will affect pointing movements to a smaller degree in athletes than in non-athletes. The results partially support our hypotheses. Highly trained handball players performed much better in the MOT task than non-athletes, which confirms that athletes have better visual attentional skills. Considering the influence of attentional load on motor performance during the MOT task, the results suggest that among athletes, this influence may be present, but limited. However, this result should be interpreted with caution.
Neuroeconomics and behavioral finance have provided insight on how cognitive processes and emotions combine to influence financial decisions. In trading decision-making, cognitive assessment and its possible increase through training should be better understood. In this preliminary validation investigation, we employed NeuroTracker (3D multiple object tracking or 3D-MOT), a technique extensively used to test and train cognitive processes in performance populations, to investigate whether the metrics on this task relate to trading performance. The findings demonstrate that there are strong relationships between trading metrics and NeuroTracker scores.Keywords3D-MOTNeuroTrackerTradingNeuroeconomicsFinance
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This chapter discusses a computational framework used to retrieve stylistic information from visual human locomotion patterns over the past years. The algorithm was initially developed to identify and analyze sex-specific differences between walkers. It was then changed and further improved and applied to a number of different problems and questions in the context of pattern recognition from biological motion. The general framework and details of the algorithm are provided. Studies where the algorithm was applied are summarized. Finally, the role of the proposed framework in understanding the very complex class of stimuli that our visual system copes with so easily, its value as a model for human perception, and potential ways to generalize and improve it are discussed.
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Despite the abundant data on brain networks processing static social signals, such as pictures of faces, the neural systems supporting social perception in naturalistic conditions are still poorly understood. Here we delineated brain networks subserving social perception under naturalistic conditions in 19 healthy humans who watched, during 3-T functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a set of 137 short (approximately 16 s each, total 27 min) audiovisual movie clips depicting pre-selected social signals. Two independent raters estimated how well each clip represented eight social features (faces, human bodies, biological motion, goal-oriented actions, emotion, social interaction, pain, and speech) and six filler features (places, objects, rigid motion, people not in social interaction, non-goal-oriented action, and non-human sounds) lacking social content. These ratings were used as predictors in the fMRI analysis. The posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) responded to all social features but not to any non-social features, and the anterior STS responded to all social features except bodies and biological motion. We also found four partially segregated, extended networks for processing of specific social signals: (1) a fronto-temporal network responding to multiple social categories, (2) a fronto-parietal network preferentially activated to bodies, motion, and pain, (3) a temporo-amygdalar network responding to faces, social interaction, and speech, and (4) a fronto-insular network responding to pain, emotions, social interactions, and speech. Our results highlight the role of the pSTS in processing multiple aspects of social information, as well as the feasibility and efficiency of fMRI mapping under conditions that resemble the complexity of real life.
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In our everyday life, processing complex dynamic scenes such as crowds and traffic is of critical importance. Further, it is well documented that there is an age-related decline in complex perceptual-cognitive processing, which can be reversed with training. It has been suggested that a specific dynamic scene perceptual-cognitive training procedure [the three-dimensional multiple object tracking speed task (3D-MOT)] helps observers manage socially relevant stimuli such as human body movements as seen in crowds or during sports activities. Here, we test this assertion by assessing whether training older observers on 3D-MOT can improve biological motion (BM) perception. Research has shown that healthy older adults require more distance in virtual space between themselves and a point-light walker to integrate BM information than younger adults. Their performances decreased markedly at a distance as far away as 4 m (critical for collision avoidance), whereas performance in young adults remained constant up to 1 m. We trained observers between 64 and 73 years of age on the 3D-MOT speed task and looked at BM perception at 4 and 16 m distances in virtual space. We also had a control group trained on a visual task and a third group without training. The perceptual-cognitive training eliminated the difference in BM perception between 4 and 16 m after only a few weeks, whereas the two control groups showed no transfer. This demonstrates that 3D-MOT training could be a good generic process for helping certain observers deal with socially relevant dynamic scenes.
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Sports experts represent a population of people who have acquired expertise in sports training and competition. Recently, the number of studies on sports experts has increased; however, neuroanatomical changes following extensive training are not fully understood. In this study, we used cortical thickness measurement to investigate the brain anatomical characteristics of professional divers with extensive training experience. A comparison of the brain anatomical characteristics of the non-athlete group with those of the athlete group revealed three regions with significantly increased cortical thickness in the athlete group. These regions included the left superior temporal sulcus, the right orbitofrontal cortex and the right parahippocampal gyrus. Moreover, a significant positive correlation between the mean cortical thickness of the right parahippocampal gyrus and the training experience was detected, which might indicate the effect of extensive training on diving players' brain structure.
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Neuroimaging studies of biological motion perception have found a network of coordinated brain areas, the hub of which appears to be the human posterior superior temporal sulcus (STSp). Understanding the functional role of the STSp requires characterizing the response tuning of neuronal populations underlying the BOLD response. Thus far our understanding of these response properties comes from single-unit studies of the monkey anterior STS, which has individual neurons tuned to body actions, with a small population invariant to changes in viewpoint, position and size of the action being viewed. To measure for homologous functional properties on the human STS, we used fMR-adaptation to investigate action, position and size invariance. Observers viewed pairs of point-light animations depicting human actions that were either identical, differed in the action depicted, locally scrambled, or differed in the viewing perspective, the position or the size. While extrastriate hMT+ had neural signals indicative of viewpoint specificity, the human STS adapted for all of these changes, as compared to viewing two different actions. Similar findings were observed in more posterior brain areas also implicated in action recognition. Our findings are evidence for viewpoint invariance in the human STS and related brain areas, with the implication that actions are abstracted into object-centered representations during visual analysis.
This present article discusses an approach to training high-level athletes' perceptual-cognitive skills. The intention herein is to (a) introduce concepts in regard to what may be required by athletes to optimally process sports-related visual scenes at the perceptual-cognitive level; (b) present an experimental method of how it may be possible to train this capacity in athletes while discussing the necessary features for a successful perceptual-cognitive training outcome; and (c) propose that this capacity may be trainable even among the highest-level athletes. An important suggestion is that a simple difference between sitting and standing testing conditions may strongly influence speed thresholds with this task, which is analogous to game movement dynamics in sports, indicating shared resources between such high-level perceptual-cognitive demands and mechanisms involved in posture control. A discussion follows emphasizing how a perceptual-cognitive training approach may be useful as an integral component of athletic training. The article concludes with possible future directions.
Recent literature has demonstrated the usefulness of fitness and computer-based cognitive training as a means to enhance cognition and brain function. However, it is unclear whether the combination of fitness and cognitive training that results from years of extensive sport training also results in superior performance on tests of cognitive processes. In this study we examine, in a quantitative meta-analysis (k = 20), the relationship between expertise in sports and laboratory-based measures of cognition. We found that athletes performed better on measures of processing speed and a category of varied attentional paradigms, and athletes from interceptive sport types and males showed the largest effects. Based on our results, more research should be done with higher-level cognitive tasks, such as tasks of executive function and more varied sub-domains of visual attention. Furthermore, future studies should incorporate more female athletes and use a diverse range of sport types and levels of expertise. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Cognitive enhancements are associated with sport training. We extended the sport-cognition literature by using a realistic street crossing task to examine the multitasking and processing speed abilities of collegiate athletes and nonathletes. Pedestrians navigated trafficked roads by walking on a treadmill in a virtual world, a challenge that requires the quick and simultaneous processing of multiple streams of information. Athletes had higher street crossing success rates than nonathletes, as reflected by fewer collisions with moving vehicles. Athletes also showed faster processing speed on a computer-based test of simple reaction time, and shorter reaction times were associated with higher street crossing success rates. The results suggest that participation in athletics relates to superior street crossing multitasking abilities and that athlete and nonathlete differences in processing speed may underlie this difference. We suggest that cognitive skills trained in sport may transfer to performance on everyday fast-paced multitasking abilities.
During our daily displacements, we should consider the individuals advancing toward us in order to avoid a possible collision with our congeneric. We developed an experimental design in a virtual immersion room, which allows us to evaluate human capacities for avoiding collisions with other people. In addition, the design allows participants to interact naturally inside this immersive virtual reality setup when a pedestrian is moving toward them, creating a possible risk of collision. Results suggest that the performance is associated with visual and motor capacities and could be adjusted by cognitive social perception.
There is considerable evidence that visual attention is concentrated at a single locus in the visual field, and that this locus can be moved independent of eye movements. Two studies are reported which suggest that, while certain aspects of attention require that locations be scanned serially, at least one operation may be carried out in parallel across several independent loci in the visual field. That is the operation of indexing features and tracking their identity. The studies show that: (a) subjects are able to track a subset of up to 5 objects in a field of 10 identical randomly-moving objects in order to distinguish a change in a target from a change in a distractor; and (b) when the speed and distance parameters of the display are designed so that, on the basis of some very conservative assumptions about the speed of attention movement and encoding times, the predicted performance of a serial scanning and updating algorithm would not exceed about 40% accuracy, subjects still manage to do the task with 87% accuracy. These findings are discussed in relation to an earlier, and independently motivated model of feature-binding--called the FINST model--which posits a primitive identity maintenance mechanism that indexes and tracks a limited number of visual objects in parallel. These indexes are hypothesized to serve the function of binding visual features prior to subsequent pattern recognition.