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

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


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

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Available from: Giulia Rizza, Jul 28, 2015
    • "postulates a more efficient cortical function in skilled subjects as compared to individuals with poor performance when they are performing a motor or cognitive task. Many examples supporting this hypothesis can be found in the scientific literature (Neubauer and Fink 2003; Del Percio et al. 2008, 2009; Babiloni et al. 2010). Given these findings, this study will be focused on the alpha band. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The analysis of the brain activity during balance is an important topic in different science fields. Given that all measurements involve an error that is caused by different agents, like the instrument, the researcher, or the natural human variability, a test-retest reliability evaluation of the electroencephalographic assessment is a needed starting point. However, there is a lack of information about the reliability of electroencephalographic measurements, especially in a new wireless device with dry electrodes. Objective: The current study aims to analyze the reliability of electroencephalographic measurements from a wireless device using dry electrodes during two different balance tests. Method: Seventeen healthy male volunteers performed two different static balance tasks on a Biodex Balance Platform: a) with two feet on the platform, and b) with one foot on the platform. Electroencephalographic data was recorded by using Enobio (Neuroelectrics). The mean power spectrum of the alpha band of the central and frontal channels were calculated. Relative and absolute indices of reliability were also calculated. Results: In general terms, the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) values of all the assessed channels can be classified as excellent (>.90). The percentage Standard Error of Measurement oscillated from 0.54% to 1.02% and the percentage Smallest Real Difference ranged from 1.50% to 2.82%. Conclusion: Electroencephalographic assessment through Enobio device during balance tasks has an excellent reliability. However, its utility was not demonstrated because responsiveness was not assessed.
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    • "Decreases in the extent or intensity of activations or activity are observed in the majority of studies examining task practice. The primary mechanism proposed to underlie activation decreases is increased NE; which, by definition, reflects an increased efficiency within a network such that operant efficiency now occurs with the engagement of fewer neural sources, as well as increased synchronous firing relative to a particular task or stimulus (Babiloni et al., 2009;Foerde et al., 2008;Poldrack, 2000Poldrack, , 2002Poldrack, Desmond, Glover, & Gabrieli, 1998;Poldrack & Gabrieli, 2001;Poldrack & Logan, 1997). Decreases in activation are suggested to reflect a more robust and efficient neural representation (Duncan & Miller, 2002) or a more precise functional circuit related to a behavior or function of interest (Garavan, Kelley, Rosen, Rao, & Stein, 2000). "

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    • "Several reports present evidence of neural efficiency [3] [4] [17], where expert judgement or improved skill results in comparatively less cortical activation, as measured by EEG. Synchronisation. "
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