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Attentional focus, the Feldenkrais Method and mindful movement

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Abstract

This paper discusses attentional focus in motor learning and performance from the point of view of mindful movement practices, taking as a starting point the Feldenkrais method. Updating a discussion several years ago of between Buchanan and Ulrich on the one hand and Ives on the other – both as regards the understanding of what an external focus of attention means, as well as to the evidence base for the motor learning efficacy of the Feldenkrais method – leads to suggestions of different aspects of the concept of external focus that lend themselves to empirical study in relation to the constrained action hypothesis. In addition, the discussion is put into the context of Eastern (martial arts derived) mindful movement practices.

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... For example, somatic training methods such as the Alexander technique, Feldenkrais method, and body mapping are widely thought to improve performance and reduce risk of injury through the cultivation of sensitivity to body sensations, muscle tension and movement habits (Davies, 2020;Lee, 2018;Slade et al., 2020). While some academics have argued that this somatic approach contradicts CAH theory because it focuses attention within the body, and on process rather than outcome (Ives, 2003;Shusterman, 2009), it has also been argued that the somatic approach in fact encourages external FOA, by focusing on quality of movement, rather than movement itself (Mattes, 2016). In support of the somatic approach, studies have found that expert performers under pressure tend to focus on physical sensations such as breathing or posture (Buma et al., 2015;Kokotsaki & Davidson, 2003), and that attention to body sensations may play a role in preventing overuse injuries (Batson, 2007). ...
... The focus instruction details are displayed in Table 1. ( Duke et al., 2011;Mattes, 2016;Wulf, 2013) We hypothesised that: ...
... This result supports previous findings that constrained action under an internal focus can lead to global changes in motor behaviouri.e., changes to movement that are not specific to the part of the body focused on for the task (Wulf & Dufek, 2009). Indeed, it is argued that somatic training methods encourage reductions in stiffness through attention to subtle body sensations (Mattes, 2016), and our finding that the somatic focus increased sway may reflect similar mechanisms. Further research could build on this finding by exploring how changes in instrumental sway behaviour may affect perceptions of performance, or how FOA might affect larger gestural behaviour in expressive music performance. ...
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Violin bowing is a specialised sound-producing action, which may be affected by psychological performance techniques. In sport, attentional focus impacts motor performance, but limited evidence for this exists in music. We investigated the effects of attentional focus on acoustical, physiological, and physical parameters of violin bowing in experienced and novice violinists. Attentional focus significantly affected spectral centroid, bow contact point consistency, shoulder muscle activity, and novices’ violin sway. Performance was most improved when focusing on tactile sensations through the bow (somatic focus), compared to sound (external focus) or arm movement (internal focus). Implications for motor performance theory and pedagogy are discussed.
... The question of whether athletes should have an external, an internal, or an alternating focus of attention when developing and performing skills has led to animated scientific debate (see for example, Toner & Moran, 2015;Collins, Carson & Toner, 2016;Mattes, 2016;Wulf, 2016). moving body (Beilock & Carr, 2001). ...
... Further and related, we can say that: (4) the mind and the body are often understood as two separate entities where the mind controls the body. Nonetheless, the mind is seen as unreliable, and reflection can be seen as risky and detrimental when it comes to skilled performance (note that some literature suggests that paying attention to one's bodily movements is useful for learning -see Mattes, 2016;Toner & Moran, 2015). In this paper, we endeavour to move beyond these assumptions and think differently about skill development. ...
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Skill development was traditionally seen through a positivist lens. Research was based on mind-body, individual-environment, and performer-skill dualisms, and researchers assumed that universal principles would ensure optimal development. Metaphorically, these assumptions represented a target hitting understanding of skill development. The goal was for the performer to hit the target of optimal performance as reliably as possible. Such an understanding commits researchers and practitioners to practical and methodological approaches. The aim of this paper is to reconsider skill development and think beyond a target hitting metaphor. To achieve this aim, we outline a kinesio-cultural exploration approach to skill development. This approach is based on a metaphoric understanding of skill development as familiarizing oneself with a landscape. Attaining familiarity in movement landscapes, or ‘kinescapes’, requires spending time in these fields, attending to critical aspects, and remaining flexible. From this perspective, skilled performers are qualitatively different to ‘target hitting’ performers.
... There also exists a parallel to this idea in music education, where somatic training methods such as the Alexander Technique (Cotik, 2019) or Feldenkrais method (Lee, 2018) encourage an awareness of body sensations as a way of learning more efficient use of the body. Indeed, it has been shown that somatic training methods may unwittingly capitalize on external FOA by encouraging attention to movement quality rather than movement mechanics (Mattes, 2016). Furthermore, attention to tactile feedback may have a particular relevance to learning a musical instrument (Stambaugh, 2019). ...
... Also important to music education would be investigating how individual differences, such as personality traits and experience with somatic training methods or mindfulness, may influence FOA effects. For example, training in the ability to observe the body in a nonjudgmental, noncontrolling way might limit the detrimental effects of an internal focus (Mattes, 2016). Our findings are also limited to the particular task we chose to study, which was a reductive technical exercise (albeit, a pedagogically relevant task) rather than a fully expressive musical performance. ...
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The constrained action hypothesis states that focusing attention on action outcomes rather than body movement improves motor performance. Dexterity of motor control is key to successful music performance, making this a highly relevant topic to music education. We investigated effects of focus of attention (FOA) on motor skill performance and EMG muscle activity in a violin bowing task among experienced and novice upper strings players. Following a pedagogically informed exercise, participants attempted to produce single oscillations of the string at a time under three FOA: internal (on arm movement), external (on sound produced), and somatic (on string resistance). Experienced players’ number of bow slips was significantly reduced under somatic focus relative to internal, although number of successful oscillations was not affected. Triceps electromyographic activity was also significantly lower in somatic compared to internal foci for both expertise groups, consistent with physiological understandings of FOA effects. Participants’ reported thoughts during the experiment provided insight into whether aspects of constrained action may be evident in performers’ conscious thinking. These results provide novel support for the constrained action hypothesis in violin bow control, suggesting a somatic FOA as a promising performance-enhancing strategy for bowed string technique.
... 13 Motor learning via external emphasis of attention (verbal instruction of the trainer) is achieved in the Feldenkrais method. 15 Improving functional integration is the second principal methods applied in the Feldenkrais method. The Feldenkrais method covers exercise therapy targets and simultaneously, improves psychological and social factors affecting low back pain via a mindbody approch. ...
... 26 In Felendecaris method mindful movements are conducted accompanied with external attention focus in performing motor skills. 15 The Feldenkrais method is based on two major principles including consciousness through movement and synchronised performance. 28 Via a mind-body approach, Feldenkrais method enables individuals to achieve a pain-free pattern of movements with a concentration on the consciousness of their own biomechanics. ...
Article
Objective To investigate the effect of the Feldenkrais method versus core stability exercises on pain, disability, quality of life and interoceptive awareness in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain. Design A single-blinded, randomised, controlled trial. Setting Outpatient, sports medicine clinic of Mazandaran medical university. Participants Sixty patients with chronic non-specific low back pain randomised equally into the Feldenkrais method versus core stability exercises groups. Intervention Intervention group received Feldenkrais method consisting of training theoretical content and supervised exercise therapy two sessions per week for five weeks. Control group received educational programme and home-based core stability exercises for five weeks. Outcome measures All patients were examined by World Health Organization’s Quality of life Questionnaire, McGill Pain Questionnaire, Oswestry Disability Questionnaire and Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness Questionnaire. All outcomes were measured at baseline and the end of the intervention Results There were statistically significant differences between groups for quality of life ( P = 0.006, from 45.51 to 60.49), interoceptive awareness ( P > 0.001, from 2.74 to 4.06) and disability ( P = 0.021, from 27.17 to 14.5) in favour of the Feldenkrais method. McGill pain score significantly decreased in both the Feldenkrais (from 15.33 to 3.63) and control groups (from 13.17 to 4.17), but there were no between-groups differences ( P = 0.16). Conclusion Feldenkrais method intervention gave increased benefits in improving quality of life, improving interoceptive awareness and reducing disability index.
... The Feldenkrais Method®, developed by Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 -1984), is an approach to somatic education used in both performance 9 and clinical 8 settings to improve the efficiency of an individuals' movement 16,17 . "Efficient," or "ease," of movement in this case is reference to multiple factors such as muscular tonus, range-of-motion, stretch reflex, and force transmission. ...
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BACKGROUND: The search strategies approach (SSA) to skill acquisition has its roots in the dynamical systems approach and has demonstrated a number of theoretical advances to the area. We argue that its advances can and are already linked to practical applications when we consider the method of Moshe Feldenkrais. The Feldenkrais Method (FM) considers skill acquisition (from rehabilitation to daily life activities improvement) in terms of exploration of new possibilities to achieve efficiency in movement. In this paper, we discuss how the SSA encompasses Feldenkrais method (FM) illustrating its applicability. Furthermore, we point to new possibilities in both FM and SSA if these are to be formally linked.
... I suggest that SDT is implicitly a central element in some modern mindful movement practices, most clearly in the Feldenkrais-Method (Feldenkrais 1949;Feldenkrais 1972;Feldenkrais 1981;Buchanan 2012;Mattes 2016), and that this method provides tools to autonomously enhance ones autonomy and competence, while at the same time being beneficial for physical health. In Mattes (2016) I noted parallels between "Feldenkrais' idea of mono-motivation and psychological research on the relationship between conflicting goals and well-being". ...
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Chapter
Mindful bewegen bevordert de corticale plasticiteit en kan de bewegingskwaliteit van de patiënt verbeteren, vooral als er traag, precies, aandachtig, onderzoekend, gevarieerd en herhaald bewogen wordt. Hoewel externe aandacht tijdens het bewegen vaak gunstig is voor de uitkomsten van het bewegen, laten we in dit hoofdstuk zien dat interne aandacht gericht op proprioceptieve bewegingssensaties ook een plaats binnen de fysiotherapie verdient. De Feldenkraismethode vertegenwoordigt mindful bewegen bij uitstek en past naadloos binnen een fysiotherapeutische setting. Bewegingskwaliteit is een lichamelijke focus die, gecombineerd met externe doelaandacht, tot optimale beweeguitkomsten leidt. Bewijs wordt aangeleverd dat mindful bewegen een gepaste interventie is voor patiënten met chronische pijn, stressgerelateerde problematiek en centraal-neurologische problematiek.
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Paper in preparation, see: http://www.feldenkrais-lernen.at/Survey/survey-explanation.html
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The aim of the present work was to analyze the influence of self-controlled task difficulty on motor learning. Participants had to intercept three targets falling at different velocities by displacing a stylus above a digitizer Task difficulty corresponded to racquet width. Half the participants (self-control condition) could choose the racquet width at the beginning of each trial. Each was paired with a participant from the yoked group. The self-control condition resulted in better performances and accuracy during immediate and delayed retention tests. These results confirm the advantage of a self-control condition on motor learning. They are discussed with reference to the challenge point hypothesis (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004).
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Since the original publication of this seminal work, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has come into its own as a widely practiced approach to helping people change. This book provides the definitive statement of ACT—from conceptual and empirical foundations to clinical techniques—written by its originators. ACT is based on the idea that psychological rigidity is a root cause of a wide range of clinical problems. The authors describe effective, innovative ways to cultivate psychological flexibility by detecting and targeting six key processes: defusion, acceptance, attention to the present moment, self-awareness, values, and committed action. Sample therapeutic exercises and patient–therapist dialogues are integrated throughout. New to This Edition *Reflects tremendous advances in ACT clinical applications, theory building, and research. *Psychological flexibility is now the central organizing focus. *Expanded coverage of mindfulness, the therapeutic relationship, relational learning, and case formulation. *Restructured to be more clinician friendly and accessible; focuses on the moment-by-moment process of therapy.
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The construct of mindfulness appears to be compatible with theories of flow and peak performance in sport. The present study assessed how Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), a new 4-week program, affected flow states, performance, and psychological characteristics of 11 archers and 21 golfers from the community. Participants completed trait measures of anxiety, perfectionism, thought disruption, confidence, mindfulness, and flow. They additionally provided data on their performances and state levels of mindfulness and flow. Analyses revealed that some significant changes in dimensions of the trait variables occurred during the training. Levels of state flow attained by the athletes also increased between the first and final sessions. The findings suggest that MSPE is a promising intervention to enhance flow, mindfulness, and aspects of sport confidence. An expanded workshop to allot more time for mindfulness practice is recommended for future studies.
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Abstract The self-invoking trigger hypothesis was proposed by Wulf and Lewthwaite (2010) as a mechanism underlying the robust effect of attentional focus on motor learning and performance. One component of this hypothesis, relevant beyond the attentional focus effect, suggests that causing individuals to access their self-schema will negatively impact their learning and performance of a motor skill. The purpose of the present two studies was to provide an initial test of the performance and learning aspects of the self-invoking trigger hypothesis by asking participants in one group to think about themselves between trial blocks - presumably activating their self-schema - to compare their performance and learning to that of a control group. In Experiment 1, participants performed 2 blocks of 10 trials on a throwing task. In one condition, participants were asked between blocks to think about their past throwing experience. While a control group maintained their performance across blocks, the self group's performance was degraded on the second block. In Experiment 2, participants were asked to practice a wiffleball hitting task on two separate days. Participants returned on a third day to perform retention and transfer tests without the self-activating manipulation. Results indicated that the self group learned the hitting task less effectively than the control group. The findings reported here provide initial support for the self-invoking trigger hypothesis.
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The field of applied sport psychology has traditionally grounded its performance enhancement techniques in the cognitive-behavioral elements of psychological skills training. These interventions typically advocate for controlling one’s cognitive and emotional processes during performance. Mindfulness-based approaches, on the other hand, have recently been introduced and employed more frequently in an effort to encourage athletes to adopt a nonjudgmental acceptance of all thoughts and emotions. Like many applied interventions in sport psychology, however, the body of literature supporting the efficacy of mindfulness-based approaches for performance enhancement is limited, and few efforts have been made to draw evidence-based conclusions from the existing research. The current paper had the purpose of systematically reviewing research on mindfulness-based interventions with athletes to assess (a) the efficacy of these approaches in enhancing sport performance and (b) the methodological quality of research conducted thus far. A comprehensive search of relevant databases, including peer-reviewed and gray literature, yielded 19 total trials (six case studies, two qualitative studies, seven nonrandomized trials, and four randomized trials) in accordance with the inclusion criteria. An assessment tool was used to score studies on the quality of research methodology. While a review of this literature yielded preliminary support for the efficacy of mindfulness-based performance enhancement strategies, the body of research also shows a need for more methodologically rigorous trials.
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Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais was a remarkable man; teacher, soldier, researcher, judoka, visionary, martial artist, physicist, and pioneer. He was a founder of the European Judo Union, and respected by Gunji Koizumi, Mikinosuke Kawaishi, and Jigoro Kano. I therefore consider it an honour and a privilege to have been asked to write an endorsement to the new edition of his important text. I met Moti Nativ when he visited the Bowen History of Judo Archive at University of Bath to continue his research into the life and work of Moshe Feldenkrais. I was immediately struck by his passion and commitment, and his depth of understanding into the relationship of mind and body as applied to Budo. For me this book speaks on three levels. It is a treatise of an effective course of unarmed combat which has withstood the test of time. It is also an important document of social and cultural history when considered in the context that it was written. Thirdly it provides a level of insight for the advanced follower of the Feldenkrais Method® into the early thought processes of the founder. Moti Nativ and Genesis II Publishing are to be commended for reminding us about the relevance of this text, and sharing with us the thoughts of a remarkable man.
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Neuroplasticity theory has gained considerable attention in recent years in the professions of medicine, psychology and neuroscience. Most research on neuroplasticity has been in neurology focusing on stroke and other central nervous system disease and injury. Further research is necessary to advance the connection of neuroplasticity theory to musculoskeletal conditions and rehabilitation. The theory of neuroplasticity as it applies to the acquisition of new skills and modification of maladaptive, pain-perpetuating and inefficient movement patterns is fundamental to the Feldenkrais Method. This case report demonstrates the application of neuroplasticity theory with the Feldenkrais Method as the primary intervention for a 42-year-old female runner with a history of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis who presented with hip and lumbar pain. The client had clinically meaningful improvements in pain intensity and the Global Rating of Change scale while meeting her goals to resume pain free running, repetitive stair climbing at work, and other leisure activities.
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Excellent performance in sport involves specialized and refined skills within very narrow applications. Choking throws a wrench in the works of finely tuned performances. Functionally, and reduced to its simplest expression, choking is severe underperformance when engaging already mastered skills. Choking is a complex phenomenon with many intersecting facets: its dysfunctions result from the multifaceted interaction of cognitive and psychological processes, neurophysiological mechanisms, and phenomenological dynamics. This article develops a phenomenological model that, complementing empirical and theoretical research, helps understand and redress choking. It aims at describing the experience of choking as experience, and to discuss strategies to palliate or prevent its onset at the pragmatic level at which athletes engage the phenomenon experientially. An overview of current empirical research and theoretical models highlights key ideas and points out contentious issues. The model describes the common structure of the choking experience. It identifies four core constitutive elements: A) disruptive proprioceptive and kinesthetic dynamics, B) a malfunctioning background or Jamesian fringe of consciousness, C) dislocated time dynamics, and D) emotional disturbances. The novelty of the remedy is that it is designed to cross disciplinary boundaries between phenomenology, historiography, and hermeneutics, and moreover connects theory to praxis as it looks at Japanese dō (道), practices of self-cultivation. It focuses on actual do-or-die situations, not putative ones such as important business deals or competing for a medal. To this effect, it examines medieval Japanese swordsmanship and training manuals and also engages risk sports, where death is indeed a real possibility. The manuals, which arise in the context of choke-inducing life or death duels, and risk sports, afford keen phenomenological observations and practical advice that prove invaluable for today’s sports world and beyond.
Chapter
This chapter focuses on the effect of external attention resources on effortless movements of individuals and concerned importance in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of such movements. It examines the findings of studies related to investigations on the effects of different attentional resources on the effectiveness and efficiency of movements. Evidence from the studies reveals that a greater focus on the effects of movements enhances the performance of effortless movement compared with more focus on the movement itself. Some other studies investigating the role of external attention in a variety of sports also reveal that more focus on external sources of movements enhances the results of such efforts.
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Over the past 15 years, research on focus of attention has consistently demonstrated that an external focus (i.e., on the movement effect) enhances motor performance and learning relative to an internal focus (i.e., on body movements). This article provides a comprehensive review of the extant literature. Findings show that the performance and learning advantages through instructions or feedback inducing an external focus extend across different types of tasks, skill levels, and age groups. Benefits are seen in movement effectiveness (e.g., accuracy, consistency, balance) as well as efficiency (e.g., muscular activity, force production, cardiovascular responses). Methodological issues that have arisen in the literature are discussed. Finally, our current understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the attentional focus effect is outlined, and directions for future research are suggested.
Context • Longevity results in changes to patterns of health, with an increased prevalence of chronic diseases. Parkinson's disease (PD) is described as a progressive neurodegenerative disease related to age that influences quality of life (QoL) and leads to depression. Objective • The study intended to assess changes in QoL and depression in older adults with PD through use of Feldenkrais method-based exercise. The study was a controlled, blinded, and randomized clinical trial. The study occurred at the University Hospital of the Federal University of Sergipe in Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil. Participants • Participants were 30 patients, aged between 50 and 70 y, with idiopathic PD, who signed an informed consent form and were randomly assigned to 2 groups: treatment and control. Intervention • The treatment group underwent 50 sessions of an exercise program based on the Feldenkrais method. The control group received educational lectures during this period. The treatment group's 50 sessions, given 2 ×/wk on alternate days and lasting 60 min, were conducted in an appropriate room at the hospital. Outcome Measures • Two surveys, the Parkinson's Disease Quality of Life (PDQL) questionnaire and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), were administered before and after the sessions for both groups. Results • After the exercises based on the Feldenkrais method, the treated group showed improvement in QoL scores (P = .004) as well as a reduction in the level of depression (P = .05) compared with the control group. Conclusion • The findings in the current study indicate that it is likely that the practice of a program based on the Feldenkrais method can contribute greatly to the QoL of patients with PD, suggesting the importance of interventions that promote wellness for this population.
Article
Heightened fall risk, potentially caused by aging-related changes in gait, is a serious health issue faced by older adults. The Alexander Technique is thought to improve balance and motor function; however, the technique's effect on gait has not been studied. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of Alexander Technique training in older adults on the temporospatial characteristics of gait and medio-lateral center of mass displacement during fast and comfortably paced over-ground walking. Six licensed Alexander Technique teachers and seven controls between the ages of 60 and 75 years of age participated in the study. Alexander Technique teachers exhibited a reduction in medio-lateral center of mass displacement during fast paced walking compared to comfortably paced walking that was not present in controls. Due to this difference Alexander Technique teachers displayed a smaller medio-lateral Center of Mass displacement compared to controls during fast paced walking. Alexander Technique teachers also demonstrated significantly smaller stride width and lower gait timing variability compared to controls. These findings, which suggest superior control of dynamic stability during gait and potentially reduced fall risk in Alexander Technique teachers, warrant further study. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article
The attentional focus of an individual can influence performance and physiological outcomes during strength training exercises. However, prior research has largely investigated this issue with male participants performing a biceps curl exercise and has not investigated the full range of attentional focus strategies. In the present experiment, 24 females did a sit-up exercise while adopting an associative or dissociative strategy of attending to cues that were external or internal to result in four conditions: external association, internal association, external dissociation, and internal dissociation. The external association condition produced the lowest electromyographic activity of the abdominal muscles, the lowest heart rate, and the greatest range of movement. The internal dissociation condition produced the lowest level of exercise satisfaction. The results suggest that a focus on the effects of muscle action is the most economical and least strenuous way to exercise with sit-ups and similar forms of exercise. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
It has been over a decade since the mindfulness and acceptance-based practice models that were originally developed within the mainstream clinical psychology domain were first applied in the sport context in order to enhance the athletic performance and overall psychological and general well-being of competitive athletes. Since that time, as mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions gained empirical support for the treatment of a broad range of clinical syndromes and difficulties, numerous important theoretical and empirical developments have also added to the scientific base for these procedures with athletic clientele and have provided some empirical support for the use of these theoretical models and associated intervention procedures. Thus, the present article retraces the past 11 years to provide a comprehensive update on the state-of-the-science with respect to the use of mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions for the purpose of enhanced athletic performance. The article sequentially discusses the theoretical development of these procedures for use with athletic clientele, provides an overview of the empirical research in both basic and applied science with respect to mechanisms of action and intervention efficacy, and suggests future research directions that may aid in the evolution of this approach. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Objectives Traditional theories of motor learning (e.g., Fitts & Posner, 1967), along with certain contemporary psychological perspectives (e.g., Weiss & Reber, 2012; Wulf, 2013), postulate that expert performers must relinquish paying conscious attention to, and/or attempting to exert control over, their bodily movements in order to achieve optimal performance. Challenging such largely unquestioned conceptual approaches, however, is an emerging body of evidence (e.g., see Montero, 2010; Shusterman, 2011) which indicates that ‘somatic reflection’ (i.e., a conscious focus on bodily movement) is an important mediator of continuous improvement (i.e., the fact that certain performers continue to improve their skills even after becoming experts) at the elite level of sport. The present position paper seeks to elucidate and resolve this apparent paradox concerning the role of bodily awareness in expertise. Method To achieve this latter aim, we draw on empirical evidence (e.g., from research on somatic attention) and theory (e.g., Shusterman’s, 2008, theory of body consciousness) to elucidate the role of bodily awareness in facilitating continuous improvement at the elite level of sport. Results and conclusion In doing so, we sketch some theoretical and practical implications of Shusterman’s (2008, 2011, 2012) theory of ‘somaesthetics’ for contemporary research on expertise in sport.
Article
Abstract The authors examined the individual and combined influences of 2 factors that have been shown to benefit motor learning: an external focus of attention and enhanced performance expectancies. Another purpose of this study was to gain further insight into the mechanisms underlying these variables. In a factorial design, participants learning a novel motor skill (i.e., throwing with the non-dominant arm) were or were not given external focus instructions, and were or were not provided bogus positive social-comparative feedback to enhance their expectancies. This resulted in 4 groups: external focus, enhanced expectancy, external focus/enhanced expectancy and control. External focus instructions and enhanced expectancies had additive benefits for learning: the external focus/enhanced expectancy group demonstrated the greatest throwing accuracy on both retention and transfer tests, while the accuracy scores of the external focus and enhanced expectancy groups were lower, but higher than those of the control group. Furthermore, self-efficacy was increased by both external focus and enhanced expectancy, and predicted retention and transfer performance. Positive affect was heightened in the enhanced expectancy and external focus/enhanced expectancy groups after practice and predicted transfer performance. The findings suggest that the learning benefits of an external focus and enhanced expectancies mediate learning through partially different mechanisms.
Article
Considerable research supports a fixed link between affect and attentional scope, with positive affect producing a focus on the forest, so to speak, and negative affect producing a focus on the trees. New research, however, reveals greater flexibility in this link than is commonly assumed. Research consistent with the idea that affective feelings merely influence whether people act on briefly dominant tendencies to focus broadly or narrowly is presented. Implications of these new findings for research on affect and attention are discussed.
Article
Interventions based on training in mindfulness skills are becoming increasingly popular. Mindfulness involves intentionally bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, and is often taught through a variety of meditation exercises. This review summarizes conceptual approaches to mind-fulness and empirical research on the utility of mindfulness-based interventions. Meta-analytic techniques were incorporated to facilitate quantification of findings and comparison across studies. Although the current empirical literature includes many methodological flaws, findings suggest that mindfulness-based interventions may be helpful in the treatment of several disorders. Methodologically sound investigations are recommended in order to clarify the utility of these interventions.
Article
Baer's review (2003; this issue) suggests that mindf ulness-based interventions are clinically efficacious, but that better designed studies are now needed to substantiate the field and place it on a firm foundation for future growth. Her review, coupled with other lines of evidence, suggests that interest in incorporating mindfulness into clinical interventions in medicine and psychology is growing. It is thus important that professionals coming to this field understand some of the unique factors associated with the delivery of mindfulness-based interventions and the potential conceptual and practical pitfalls of not recognizing the features of this broadly unfamiliar landscape. This commentary highlights and contextualizes (1) what exactly mindfulness is, (2) where it came from, (3) how it came to be introduced into medicine and health care, (4) issues of cross-cultural sensitivity and understanding in the study of meditative practices stemming from other cultures and in applications of them in novel settings, (5) why it is important for people who are teaching mind-fulness to practice themselves, (6) results from 3 recent studies from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society not reviewed by Baer but which raise a number of key questions about clinical applicability, study design, and mechanism of action, and (7) current opportunities for professional training and development in mindfulness and its clinical applications.