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Mind over muscle: The role of gaze control, spatial cognition, and the quiet eye in motor expertise



In the course of all motor behavior, the brain is limited in how much information it can process and act upon at a time. Performers must constantly decide where to look, what to attend to, and how to time fixated information with precisely controlled actions. The gaze can be directed to only one location at a time and information central to success must be selected from spatially complex environments, most often under severe time constraints. The coordination of these processes is explored in this Special issue in a number of motor tasks, including golf, soccer, law enforcement, and ballet. The papers describe the visual information and quiet eye characteristics that underlie the ability to make decisions under complex task conditions and the relationship between control of the gaze and task outcomes. With the attainment of motor expertise, measureable changes occur within the gaze, cognitive, and neural systems that are useful in training, rehabilitation, and the treatment of motor deficits.
Mind over muscle: the role of gaze control, spatial cognition,
and the quiet eye in motor expertise
Joan N. Vickers
Received: 21 May 2011 / Accepted: 24 May 2011
!Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2011
Abstract In the course of all motor behavior, the brain is
limited in how much information it can process and act
upon at a time. Performers must constantly decide where to
look, what to attend to, and how to time fixated information
with precisely controlled actions. The gaze can be directed
to only one location at a time and information central to
success must be selected from spatially complex environ-
ments, most often under severe time constraints. The
coordination of these processes is explored in this Special
issue in a number of motor tasks, including golf, soccer,
law enforcement, and ballet. The papers describe the visual
information and quiet eye characteristics that underlie the
ability to make decisions under complex task conditions
and the relationship between control of the gaze and task
outcomes. With the attainment of motor expertise, mea-
sureable changes occur within the gaze, cognitive, and
neural systems that are useful in training, rehabilitation,
and the treatment of motor deficits.
The papers in this Special issue of Cognitive Processing are
the result of a Symposium on Gaze and Cognitive Control
presented at the International Conference on Spatial Cog-
nition in Rome, September, 2009. The goal of the Sym-
posium was to further understanding of the nature of gaze
control, spatial cognition, and the quiet eye during the
performance of complex motor skills. I want to thank all of
the authors and reviewers who took part in the Symposium
and this Special issue, as well as Marta Olivetti
Belardinelli, Editor-in-Chief and Thomas Hu
Managing Editor.
As the title of this editorial suggests to reach the highest
levels of expertise in a sport or any other motor domain, it
takes more than superior physical skill. While previously it
was difficult, if not impossible, to research how human’s
control their gaze in complex spatial environments, all of
the authors in this Special issue have found ways to
research real world events and test individuals under
experimentally rigorous conditions. All have done this by
harnessing mobile eye tracking technology that provides
new insights into how the visual system functions in
physically challenging spaces and time frames. All present
evidence that shows how the gaze is controlled in space is a
critical factor in motor expertise requiring precise cue
selection, optimal timing, and the ability to focus for sur-
prisingly long durations under all conditions of perfor-
mance. The greater or more intense the pressure then the
more the gaze must be precisely controlled in space and
timed relative to specific phases of the motor skill.
They further show that expert performers have gaze
control abilities distinct from those with lower skill levels
in being able to acquire the most optimal spatial informa-
tion thus allowing the neural structures underlying the
action to optimally organize. When the spatial information
is insufficient or incomplete, then the action is only par-
tially organized and performance suffers. Paradoxically,
the type of gaze control that accompanies excellence in
dynamic motor skills is not itself rapid and dynamic, but
instead just the opposite; it is calm, cool, and collected,
meaning fixation onsets are early, of long duration and
focussed intently on critical external locations well before
the final phase of the movement begins. Since the human
brain is a relatively slow visual processor, it is incumbent
on the performer to find ways to access complex spatial
J. N. Vickers (&)
Neuro-Motor Psychology Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology,
University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Cogn Process
DOI 10.1007/s10339-011-0411-2
information that is often very difficult to access. The
authors of this Special issue all show how expert per-
formers do this, potentially opening new avenues for
training, rehabilitation, and the treatment of motor deficits.
Study of the gaze behaviors of motor experts and non-
experts also provides new insights into how the brain
changes as a result of the development of expertise.
Hommel (2010) states that instead of trying to define an
attention system, which has been the goal of many in
cognitive science, a more productive approach is to ‘‘focus
on the attentional processes, that is, to ask what attention
does rather than what it is’’ (p. 121). Such an approach
seems appropriate in light of fMRI evidence showing the
neural structures subserving the different forms of attention
(vision, audition and so on) are widely distributed in the
brain making the identification of a single attention system,
per se, highly unlikely. A more approachable goal,
according to Hommel, is to ‘‘appreciate the importance of
attentional processes for action (selection of action).’’ His
thesis is that ‘‘attention not only subserves action-control
problems but may actually have emerged to solve action-
control problems in a cognitive system that relies on dis-
tributed representations and multiple, loosely connected
processing streams’’ (p. 121).
When the gaze is optimally controlled in space then a
state of ‘‘motor resonance’’ is achieved. I have borrowed
the term ‘‘motor resonance’’ from Aglioti et al. (2008,
p. 1109) who found that ‘‘achieving excellence in sports
may be related to the fine-tuning of specific anticipatory
‘resonance’ mechanisms that endow elite athletes’ brains
with the ability to predict others’ actions ahead of their
realization.’’ Building on the evidence of Aglioti et al.
(2008) and others I would like to suggest that when the
gaze is controlled optimally in space, then energy is
transferred from the information being fixated to the neural
networks and finally to the motor system resulting in per-
formances that are not only more successful, but also
possess the quality of effortlessness that is symptomatic of
optimal energy transfer. What is new about the notion of
motor resonance is that the energy originates, in part, from
the spatial information being fixated or tracked in space.
Expressions such as ‘‘being one with the target’’ and
‘being in the zone’’ are common and reflect, at some level,
an awareness of an elusive energy source that is universally
accompanied by a sense of complete motor control.
One measureable source of motor resonance is the quiet
eye. It has been 15 years since the first quiet eye paper was
published (Vickers 1996), and in the intervening years,
over 70 papers have been published, with many listed in
the reference lists of this Special issue. The quiet eye is
recorded with a mobile eye tracker that is coupled with an
external motor camera or cameras. It is defined as the final
fixation or tracking gaze that is located on a specific object
or location in the task environment within three degrees of
visual angle (or less) for a minimum duration of 100 ms.
The quiet onset occurs prior to the final movement, and
thus the quiet eye is a perception–action variable; it con-
tains measures of both the gaze in space and the physical
movements of the performer (Vickers 1996,2007).
From a cognitive neuroscience perspective, a long
duration quiet eye period provides the time the brain needs
to organize the neural structures underlying the planning
and control of the action. Mann et al. (this volume) pro-
vides evidence in support of this idea using the golf putt.
They explain that the bereitschaftspotential (BP) is an
aspect of the event-related potential (ERP) that reflects the
activation of the supplementary motor area that begins
approximately 1500 ms prior to movement onset. Since the
BP precedes an actual, intended, or imagined action by
1.0–1.5 s, it serves as an index of anticipatory attention and
movement preparation. Prior to this study, there was
speculation that the BP played a role in the detection and
pairing of task relevant environmental visual features with
the requisite elements of response execution. They found
that ‘‘prolonged fixations, particularly during the final fix-
ation that defines the QE, apparently permit the detailed
processing of information and cortical organization nec-
essary for effective motor performance’’.
An optimal quiet eye period also acts like a GPS system
that feeds into the brain the specific x, y, and z spatial
coordinates needed for the action to be organized optimally
in space over time. A long duration fixation on a specific
location contributes to better body positioning, a more
balanced stance and the timing of limb actions that are
efficient and economical. Evidence supporting the efficacy
of testing individuals in realistic spatial environments
where GPS-like gaze coordinates can be accessed comes
from a paper by Button et al. (this volume) and Dicks et al.
(2010) who tested elite soccer goaltenders in five experi-
mental conditions: two using video simulations of penalty
kicks with verbal and joystick responses, and three carried
out on the field with verbal, step, and real world responses.
Not only did the goalkeepers make more saves in the real
world condition, but their fixation locations changed sig-
nificantly across the five conditions. It is apparent that the
visual control of experts cannot be fully appreciated until
they are studied in experimental settings that access the
actual spatial x, y, and z visual coordinates used to control
the mind and body.
This concept is also illustrated in Piras and Vickers (this
volume) in a soccer goaltending study using the penalty
kick. They show there is a cognitive cost associated with
shifting the gaze in a time pressured environment like the
penalty kick. In order to be successful, the goalkeeper’s
gaze has to be controlled precisely during the run-up on a
‘visual pivot,’’ which is located between the ball and
Cogn Process
kicking action. When fixations are located on the visual
pivot, this allows the goaltender to ‘‘read’’ the type of kick
being delivered while at the same time anticipate the
moment of ball-foot contact. Since there is initially con-
siderable distance between the ball and kicking action in
terms of visual angle, the limits of focal vision are a factor,
as is the need for fixation transitions between the visual
pivot and ball. More important, when the final fixation on
the ball is too long, then valuable information is missed of
the leg/foot action and the chances of being scored against
Once the quiet eye characteristics in a motor task are
known, this allows the teaching of the gaze control and
visual focus characteristics of expert performers. Wood and
Wilson (this volume) used quiet eye information to train
soccer players in the penalty kick. They found that during
acquisition and retention, QE training led to making shots
that were more accurate, further from the goalkeeper’s
reach and less likely to be saved. They also found signifi-
cant improvements in quiet eye/gaze control and suggest
the longer QE periods minimized distractions. Theoreti-
cally, Wood and Wilson and Vine and Wilson (2011) argue
that a long duration quiet eye prevents a disruption in the
balance of the goal-directed (top-down dorsal) system and
the stimulus-driven (ventral) systems. Since anxiety dis-
rupts the balance between these two systems, a long
duration quiet eye provides performers an extended dura-
tion of response programming (dorsal processing), while
blocking unwanted stimulus-driven ventral processing.
Neuwenhuyns and Oudejans (this volume) used a novel
training method to train police officers under conditions of
high stress and anxiety. How officers are trained to shoot
has not changed over the past 100 years and is carried out
almost exclusively on ranges where officers achieve high
levels of accuracy but later perform poorly when faced
with a violent offender on the street. Using a pretest,
posttest and four month retention interval they report that
positive changes in movement speed and accuracy could
only be explained by the observed changes in gaze
behavior. Compared to a control group, officers who were
trained under high anxiety developed gaze characteristics
that were ‘‘relatively calm’’ and characterized by a long
final fixations on the targets which indicated control of
goal-directed attention after training. When performance
was poor, this was accompanied by relatively short final
fixations on the targets, indicating that goal-directed
attentional control was not achieved to the same degree.
The ability to control the gaze in space is also critical for
ballet dancers (Panchuk and Vickers, this volume) who
must not only move with grace and assurance along cho-
reographed travel paths but do this under complete control.
They determined the gaze and stepping behaviors of elite
ballet dancers and controls as they walked along
progressively narrower 3 m lines (2.5, 10 cm). The ballet
dancers fixated into far space delaying their first step before
stepping quickly onto the lines which they exited slowly
and under control. In contrast, the controls stepped
immediately and looked down at the lines which they
exited with greater speed and less control. These results
suggest that with the acquisition of expertise in dance
neural control shifts forward from somatosensory sensory
inputs arising from the feet and legs to greater use of visual
feedback from external sources.
Control of the gaze in space is also central to decision
making as shown by Ward et al. (this volume) who
investigated the gaze and decision making abilities of elite
(SWAT) and regular police officers as they responded to
video simulations of crimes that officers typically face.
Their research question centered on whether police officers
with extensive experience used an exhaustive search
strategy in which a number of likely alternatives are con-
sidered, or do they go right to the final decision with little
consideration of alternatives? Ford et al. found the SWAT
officers have developed superior long-term memory skills
that support both an exhaustive search of alternative deci-
sions and rapid decision making, depending on the context.
When the time constraints were greatest and associated
with complex and dynamic situations, the SWAT officers
limited the extent to which they engaged in additional
higher order evaluations.
Roca et al. (this volume) investigated the gaze and
verbal reports of low- and high-skilled soccer players after
viewing complex 11 versus 11 tactical plays. Skilled
players employed a quantitatively different visual search
strategy when compared to lower skilled players and also
had more advanced memory representations that enabled
them to retrieve task-specific information with greater ease
and make better superior decisions. The skilled players
generated a higher proportion of evaluation, prediction, and
planning statements in comparison with the less skilled
players, while the less skilled players recalled more current
actions and events. In time-constrained sporting tasks,
skilled players’ advanced memory representations enable
them to anticipate and predict upcoming events to a greater
extent information than their less skilled counterparts. The
papers in the current volume not only provide an overview
of past studies but also provide a glimpse of new studies
that need to be pursued.
Although the quiet eye effect is described by Mann et al.
as a ‘‘remarkably robust finding with a rapidly expanding
body of literature,’’ there is a need for replication and
extension of current findings. Future studies need to con-
tinue to explore the effects of pressure on the visuomotor
planning and control of the skill and the utility of gaze-
based training and quiet eye interventions as a way to
reduce anxiety. Going forward, it will be important to
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expand gaze and quiet eye research and training into areas
such as surgery, emergency medicine, the military, law
enforcement, the arts, business, and social behavior. There
is also a need for the creation of quiet eye training proto-
cols that have been proven to be effective in actual sport
competitions, surgery on live patients, law enforcement,
and everyday events where the ability to perform at a high
level is critical. There is also considerable interest in
determining whether some are born with a quiet eye. Is the
quiet eye genetic or is it acquired only as a result of
extensive practice? Quiet eye training for children may be
beneficial, especially those with learning or movement
difficulties. More research on individual differences is also
needed. It would be especially interesting to determine
differences between experts, as the expertise literature
suggests some find pathways that are more advanced than
others. It may be that these pathways originate in elusive
spatial gaze characteristics that we are now beginning to
measure and understand.
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a
target no one else can see.
Arthur Shopenhauer (1788–1860)
Aglioti S, Cesari P, Romani M, Urgesi C (2008) Action anticipation
and motor resonance in elite basketball players. Nature Neurosci
Button C, Dicks M, Haines R, Barker R, Davids K (this volume)
Statistical modelling of gaze behaviour as categorical time
series: what you should watch to save soccer penalties. Cogn
Process. doi:10.1007/s10339-010-0384-6
Dicks M, Button C, Davids K (2010) Examination of gaze behaviors
under in situ and video simulation task constraints reveals
differences in information pickup for perception and action.
Attention. Percept Psychophys 72(3):706–720
Hommel B (2010) Effortless attention. A new perspective in the
cognitive science of attention and action. In: Bruyer B (ed)
Guiding attention in action control. MIT Press, Cambridge
Mann D Coombes S, Mousseau M, Janelle C (this volume) Quiet eye
and the bereitschaftspotential: visuomotor mechanisms underly-
ing expert motor performance. Cogn Process. doi:10.1007/
Panchuk D, Vickers JN (this volume) Effects of narrowing the base of
support on the gait, gaze and quiet eye of elite ballet dancers and
controls. Cogn Process. doi:10.1007/s10339-011-0395-y
Nieuwenhuys A, Oudejans R et al. (this volume) Training with
anxiety: short- and long-term effects on police officers’ shooting
behavior under pressure. Cogn Processing
Piras A, Vickers JN (this volume) The effect of fixation transitions on
quiet eye duration and performance in the soccer penalty kick.
Cogn Process. doi: 10.1007/s10339-011-0406-z
Roca A, Ford PR, McRobert AP, Williams AM (this volume)
Identifying the processes underpinning anticipation and deci-
sion-making in a dynamic time-constrained task. doi:10.1007/
Vickers JN (1996) Visual control when aiming at a far target. J Exp
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Vickers JN (2007) Perception, cognition, and decision training: the
quiet eye in action. Human Kinetics, Windsor
Vine SJ, Wilson MR (2011) The influence of quiet eye training and
pressure on attention and visuo-motor control. Acta Psycholog-
ica. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.12.008
Wood G, Wilson M (this volume) Quiet eye training for soccer
penalty kicks. Cogn Process. doi: 10.1007/s10339-011-0393-0
Ward P, Suss J, Eccles DW, Williams AM, Harris K (this volume)
Skill-based differences in option generation in a complex task: a
verbal protocol analysis. doi:10.1007/s10339-011-0397-9
Cogn Process
... In other words, dynamic systems believe in coordination, complexity, self-organization and information constraints during the acquisition of motor skills (Davids, Button and Bennett, 2008). Over the past century, the issue of how humans learn to control and coordinate their movements has received much attention from scientists and has led to various theories; However, there is still debate as to which theory is more correct (Vickers, 2011). In recent years, much research has been done on the components of controlling visual behavior related to motor tasks. ...
Full-text available
DEAR EDITOR Over the years, the acquisition of motor skills has been considered a necessity in the field of sports science. Studies in the field of motor behavior have been planned and conducted over the years to find appropriate scientific and practical theories. Although in each course theories were presented to properly justify the acquisition of motor skills, the shortcomings of each idea and theory led researchers to provide more comprehensive models that align the principles of exercise science with the actual practice environment to determine how the learner acquires motor skills. What is your current view of motor behavior and how does your inference base your teaching and coaching methods? Therefore, it is necessary to know which model offers more scientific and practical instructions for organizing training fields, providing information for the learner, using visual representation and other important tasks. As a result, many traditional theories have been developed to explain a small group of related actions (Newell, 1989). For example, open-loop theories are adapted for fast throwing motions; Closed-loop theory examines slow and precise movements, and schema theory is proposed to explain the learning of discrete movements. Traditional approaches to skill acquisition have not provided a single theory for learning (Anson, G., Elliott, D., & Davids, K, 2005). In contrast, new theories such as dynamic systems have more stably explained motor acquisition. Dynamic systems theory emphasizes the need to understand natural phenomena as a system with high interaction between components (Clarke, D., & Crossland, J, 1985). The view of dynamic systems provides a very good justification and basis for the study of human behavior. In other words, dynamic systems believe in coordination, complexity, self-organization and information constraints during the acquisition of motor skills (Davids, Button and Bennett, 2008). Over the past century, the issue of how humans learn to control and coordinate their movements has received much attention from scientists and has led to various theories; However, there is still debate as to which theory is more correct (Vickers, 2011). In recent years, much research has been done on the components of controlling visual behavior related to motor tasks. A particular strategy among these studies is the quiet eye, which has been shown to be required for high levels of motor skills and performance (Vickers, 1996); In fact, accuracy and expertise improve with increasing quiet eye duration (Vickers, 2007). In fact, the quiet eye is a perceptual skill that is associated with expertise and optimal performance. The benefits of this phenomenon have been observed in a range of motor tasks. Quiet eye training emphasizes the place and duration of eye stabilization during the skill acquisition process. In many sports, performers have to make quick decisions in an ever-changing and complex environment. For example, players must act on the information provided by the ball, teammates and opponents. These decisions must be made under the pressure of opponents who are trying to limit the space and time available for execution. In such background, in order to function effectively, players must focus only on relevant and relevant sources of information. So, recognizing when and where to look is the most important aspect of skillful performance. Sometimes it has been found that the pattern of skillful vision search is not done randomly, but is based on intentional perceptual strategies (Yoshikawa, N., Nittono, H., & Masaki, H, 2020). Eye movements through the search strategy enable the controller and the performer to use the time available to analyze the display more effectively. Visual stabilization allows the performer to stabilize an important area of the show, such as a ball or player, in central vision, and this allows for more detailed processing. The more information that has to be processed, the longer it takes to establish itself (Just, & Carpenter, 1976). It should be noted that research on the quiet eye in the country is very limited, which requires further investigation in different groups and communities. It should also be noted that it is necessary to study the quiet eye and practice the quiet eye with other movement training in most sports and different ages to finally be a comprehensive program for different groups to increase the duration of the quiet eye and subsequently motor function, design and implementation.
... Fundamental to any theoretical perspectives is understanding the exquisite coordination between two systems: the visual system that detects specific spatial information in the sport environment, and the motor system that carries out the movement. [75][76][77][78][79][80][81] Determining success and failure is central to the very identity and purpose of all sports, yet motor error scores such as AE, CE, VE, RE and similar measures often play no role in how success in determined in basketball, golf, volleyball, ice hockey/soccer goaltending, darts, curling, tennis, baseball and many other sports (while some exceptions do exist, such as in archery and some shooting events where a cumulative score is derived from the sum of shots that land in concentric rings of different value). Their translation has therefore been comparatively limited to the real world of sport. ...
Full-text available
This paper reveals new insights that comes from comparing quiet eye (QE) studies within the motor accuracy and motor error paradigms. Motor accuracy is defined by the rules of the sport (e.g,. hits versus misses), while motor error is defined by a behavioral measure, such as how far a ball or other object lands from the target (e.g. radial error). The QE motor accuracy paradigm treats accuracy as an independent variable and determines the QE duration during an equal (or near-equal) number of hits and misses per condition per participant, while the motor error QE paradigm combines hits and misses into one data set and determines the correlation between the QE and motor error, which is used as a proxy for accuracy. QE studies within the motor accuracy paradigm consistently find a longer QE duration is a characteristic of skill, and/or interaction of skill by accuracy. In contrast, QE motor error studies do not analyze or report the relationship between the QE duration and accuracy (although often claimed), and rarely find a significant correlation between the QE duration and error. Evidence is provided showing the absence of significant results in QE motor error studies is due to the low number of accurate trials found in motor error studies due to the inherent complexity of all sport skills. Novices in targeting skills make fewer than 20% of their shots and experts less than 40% (with some exceptions) creating imbalanced data sets that make it difficult, if not impossible, to find significant QE results (or any other neural, perceptual or cognitive variable) related to motor accuracy in sport.
... In other words, dynamic systems believe in coordination, complexity, self-organization and information constraints during the acquisition of motor skills (Davids, Button and Bennett, 2008). Over the past century, the issue of how humans learn to control and coordinate their movements has received much attention from scientists and has led to various theories; However, there is still debate as to which theory is more correct (Vickers, 2011). In recent years, much research has been done on the components of controlling visual behavior related to motor tasks. ...
... The benefits of maintaining the QE or final fixation throughout the critical movement have been clearly demonstrated, yet currently, the mechanisms by which the QE exerts its beneficial effects on performance are still relatively unknown (Vickers, 2016). It has been suggested that the QE is a functional representation of the cognitive time needed to pre-program the correct movement parameters for action execution (Vickers, 2011). Further to this, the QE has been associated with increased cortical activation (Mann, Coombes, Mousseau, & Janelle, 2011) and a longer QE has also been associated with more efficient movement kinematics (Causer et al., 2010). ...
Full-text available
The mechanisms underpinning perceptual-cognitive skills during performance in aiming tasks were examined in the current thesis. Firstly, due to a lack of research within the area, Chapter two investigated expertise differences and the effect of task complexity on visual search behaviours, movement kinematics during golf short game shots. Near experts were found to exhibit a significantly longer total quiet eye duration (QED) than the expert group during the putting task; a difference underpinned by having a QE-pre duration of more than double that of the experts. Task complexity had no significant effect on total QED but during a perceived harder task, QE-pre was again shown to be a distinguishing factor. Using the results of Chapter 2, Chapter 3 aimed to investigate the effects of increased attentional workload on the perceptual-cognitive skills and performance of expert and novice basketballers. Specifically, the aim of the chapter was to investigate whether increased attentional load through the use of a dual-task paradigm, exhibited the same negative effects as an increase in anxiety. QED was found to be lower during high attention conditions than low attention conditions, suggesting that processing efficiency was effected by the increased cognitive stress. Therefore, using the results of the two previous chapters, Chapter 4 aimed to investigate whether QE training under high attentional load could protect individuals somewhat from the negative effects of increased anxiety when performing under pressure in competition. It was found that both QE training groups increased their QED from pre-test to retention, however during a high attention post-test, only the QE high attention trained group maintained their QED’s when compared to QE low attention and technical trained groups. The findings have major implications for both theory and practice, whilst extending the research in the area of perceptual-cognitive skills
... QE research opens a fascinating vantage point on the perceptual linkages anchoring organisms to their visual contexts and the synergies transforming visual information into action (e.g., Kelty-Stephen et al., 2020;Mangalam, Lee, et al., 2020;Profeta & Turvey, 2018). Research on QE has mostly examined the visual-cognitive bases for the relatively more extraverted gaze into the task context (Panchuk & Vickers, 2006;Rienhoff et al., 2016;Vickers, 2011), and the relationship of QE to the body, the brain, and the nervous system has received relatively less attention (Davids & Araújo, 2016;Renshaw et al., 2019;Shine et al., 2018). To fill this gap, a 'postural-kinematic hypothesis' has begun to complement the canonical 'visual hypothesis' that QE was a primarily visual-cognitive mechanism (Gallicchio & Ring, 2020). ...
Full-text available
The ‘quiet eye’ (QE) approach to visually-guided aiming behavior invests fully in perceptual information’s potential to organize coordinated action. Sports psychologists refer to QE as the stillness of the eyes during aiming tasks and increasingly into self- and externally-paced tasks. Amidst the ‘noisy’ fluctuations of the athlete’s body, quiet eyes might leave fewer saccadic interruptions to the coupling between postural sway and optic flow. Postural sway exhibits fluctuations whose multifractal structure serves as a robust predictor of visual and haptic perceptual responses. Postural sway generates optic flow centered on an individual’s eye height. We predicted that perturbing the eye height by attaching wooden blocks below the feet would perturb the putting more so in QE-trained participants than those trained technically. We also predicted that QE’s efficacy and responses to this perturbation would depend on multifractality in postural sway. Specifically, we predicted that less multifractality would predict more adaptive responses to the perturbation and higher putting accuracy. Results showed that lower multifractality led to more frequent successful putts, and the perturbation of eye height led to less frequent successful putts, particularly for QE-trained participants. Models of radial error (i.e., the distance between the ball’s final position and the hole) indicated that lower estimates of multifractality due to nonlinearity coincided with a more adaptive response to the perturbation. These results suggest that reduced multifractality may act in a context-sensitive manner to restrain motoric degrees of freedom to achieve the task goal.
... A quiet eye is characterized by the steady fixation on the target rather than the medium (for example, the service pistol) right before and during shooting. Aside from practical police scenarios, this effect has also been observed in sports shooting, darts, and various types of ball sports using eye tracking equipment (Behan and Wilson 2008;Causer et al. 2010;Edworthy et al. 2000;Lebeau et al. 2016;Piras and Vickers 2011;Vickers 2011;Vickers and Lewinski 2012;Vickers and Williams 2007;Vine et al. 2014;Wilson 2010, 2011;Wood and Wilson 2012). ...
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Police officers strongly rely on their ability to visually perceive threats accurately and quickly on a daily basis. Previous studies have shown that training and practical experience improve performance in life-threatening encounters. The present study compared the gaze patterns of highly trained police officers of a tactical unit (TU) to matched patrol officers (MP) and unmatched patrol officers (UP) in realistic video scenarios using a mobile eye tracker and a USB arcade gun. As hypothesized, the TU fixated the tactically crucial hands and hip region of a suspect significantly longer than the MP and UP. Vice versa, the MP and UP fixated the suspect’s face significantly longer than the TU. The results indicate that tactical training enhances efficient gaze control to a greater extent than practical routine. Therefore, the authors recommend regular training and education on this topic for law enforcement personnel to minimize the risk of death or severe injuries in high-stress situations.
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This study aimed to investigate the effects of nonlinear and linear varied practice compared to a constant linear practice on inhibitory control and reaction time, which are capacities that involve cognition in preadolescents. Eighty-three participants in the 8th grade participated in the study. They were assigned to two experimental groups (varied practice), taught using nonlinear pedagogy (NLP) and linear pedagogy (VLP), respectively, or one control group (constant practice), taught using linear pedagogy (CLP). All participants were tested for inhibitory control (congruent and incongruent conditions) and simple reaction time. Overall, varied practice (both linear and nonlinear) induced larger improvements than constant practice under both congruent (p = 0.026) and incongruent (p = 0.013) conditions of inhibitory control. Additionally, VLP provided greater improvements in inhibitory control (for the incongruent condition) than NLP and CLP. Although NLP and VLP may be preferable to CLP approaches for enhancing executive functions in preadolescents, VLP seems to be the most effective approach aimed to improve cognition within PE classes.
Polizeivollzugsbeamt*innen müssen sich im Dienst auf ihre visuelle Wahrnehmung verlassen können. Vor allem bei der Erkennung von Gefahren spielen Blickführung und Aufmerksamkeitsausrichtung eine entscheidende Rolle. Studien zeigen, dass noch vor polizeilicher Diensterfahrung insbesondere ein hoher Trainingsstand positive Auswirkungen auf Blickführung, taktisches Verständnis und Gefahrenerkennung hat. Anhand praktischer Beispiele werden in diesem Beitrag Blickführungsmuster thematisiert, die gezielt kritische Regionen des polizeilichen Gegenübers priorisieren und unter Stress die Gefahr eines „Wahrnehmungslochs“ reduzieren können. Abschließend wird Entscheider*innen und Einsatztrainer*innen nahegelegt, der Thematik verstärkt Aufmerksamkeit zu widmen und antiquierte Trainingskonzepte zu überdenken. Einsatzkräften wird geraten, die polizeiliche Aus- und Fortbildung im Hinblick auf Wahrnehmungselemente proaktiv zu reflektieren und sinnvoll mitzugestalten. Trainierende sind keine reinen Konsument*innen, sie müssen aktiv am Training teilnehmen und die vermittelten Inhalte nicht nur lernen – sondern vor allem verstehen.
Three areas about the role of vision in hitting a squash ball were investigated- the fixation timings (early or late), the fixation location (ball centre, not the centre of the ball) and the area the ball landed.Intermediate and semi professional squash athletes were asked to wear an eye tracking device and hit a straight drive on either side as close to the sidewall as they could, while someone was repeatedly feeding them the ball. Three succeeding Quiet Eye periods were observed- racket preparation (when the athlete moved his racket in preparation of the shot), racket extension (when the athlete swung his racket to hit the ball) and ball hit (once the athlete hit the shot till it touched the wall).
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The ability to direct the gaze to optimal areas in the environmental context, at the appropriate time, is central to success in all sports. The aim of this study was to changes determine the elements of QE, during the run a reactivity launcher targeting skill, under different environmental demands. That was done to identify perceptual-cognitive effects performance-based infrastructure processes. Thus, 8 Athletes (22-28 Years old) with at least 5 years' experience in dart throwing, in a counterbalanced manner performed under four target conditions of constraints environmental. Regulatory conditions (stationary/in motion) and inter-trial variability (present/absent) created four target conditions for reaction. During the run a launcher targeting skill and was continuously recorded characteristics related to gaze behavior in each scenario. In each condition, 10 trails 20 seconds conducted. Gaze behavior using an eye-tracking device Dikablis Professional Wireless model recorded and analyzed using DLab software information processing system and variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures. Results showed that there was significant between averages QE in four different environmental contexts (P≤0.001). The fastest QE onset was observed stationary-no inter-trial variability and QE offset and QE period belonged to in motion-no inter-trial variability and in motion-inter-trial variability. In general investigating factors involved in skillful performance in different implementation conditions in response to various constraints can be facilitator and effective in identifying important factors learning motor skills.
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Athletes must be able to make split-second decisions under the pressures of competition, but often this vital learning is left to chance. With Perception, Cognition, and Decision Training: The Quiet Eye in Action, readers gain access to the research foundations behind an innovative decision-training system that has been used successfully for years in training athletes. Certain to become the definitive guide to decision making in sport, this text presents three innovations solidly based in research. The first is the vision- in-action method of recording what athletes actually see when they perform. The second is the quiet eye phenomenon that has attracted considerable media attention. The third innovation is decision training to identify not only how athletes make performance decisions but also how to facilitate visual perception and action to enhance performance. Author Joan Vickers—who discovered the quiet eye and developed the vision-in-action method—takes the next step by integrating all three innovations into a system for helping athletes improve. Together, these advances provide scientific evidence of the effectiveness of perception– action coupling in athletes’ training.
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Male goalkeepers of intermediate skill level attempted to stop penalty kicks executed with the instep and inside foot, in situ. A mobile eye tracker and an external camera were used to collect the gaze and motor behaviors of the goalkeepers, as well as the penalty takers' motor behaviors and flight of the ball. Percent saves was greater during instep (28%) than inside foot kicks (12%), but we detected few differences in fixation frequency, location, duration, or transitions that could be attributed to the type of kick used. Fixation transitions (or the frequency of gaze shifts between locations) were significantly higher on goals than on saves. During the final phase of the kicking action, the quiet eye was located on the visual pivot and was longer during saves than goals. Furthermore, when the final fixation on the ball exceeded approximately 1,100 ms, then the likelihood of goals increased. The results are discussed in light of past studies in goaltending and the dual demands of motor tasks that require information be fixated both early and late at spatial locations that exceed the limits of focal vision.
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In recent models of decision-making, cognitive scientists have examined the relationship between option generation and successful performance. These models suggest that those who are successful at decision-making generate few courses of action and typically choose the first, often best, option. Scientists working in the area of expert performance, on the other hand, have demonstrated that the ability to generate and prioritize task-relevant options during situation assessment is associated with successful performance. In the current study, we measured law enforcement officers' performance and thinking in a simulated task environment to examine the option generation strategies used during decision-making in a complex domain. The number of options generated during assessment (i.e., making decisions about events in the environment) and intervention (i.e., making decisions about personal courses of action) phases of decision-making interact to produce a successful outcome. The data are explained with respect to the development of a situational representation and long-term working memory skills capable of supporting both option generation processes.
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We investigated short- and long-term effects of training with anxiety on police officers' shooting behavior under pressure. Using a pretest, posttest, and retention test design, 27 police officers executed a shooting exercise against an opponent that did (high anxiety) or did not (low anxiety) shoot back using colored soap cartridges. During the training sessions, the experimental group practiced with anxiety and the control group practiced without anxiety. At the pretest, anxiety had a negative effect on shot accuracy for both groups. At the posttest, shot accuracy of the experimental group no longer deteriorated under anxiety, while shot accuracy of the control group was still equally affected. At the retention test, 4 months after training, positive results for the experimental group remained present, indicating that training with anxiety may have positive short- and long-term effects on police officers' shot accuracy under pressure. Additional analyses showed that these effects are potentially related to changes in visual attention on task-relevant information.
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We determined the gaze and stepping behaviours of elite ballet dancers and controls as they walked normally and along progressively narrower 3-m lines (l0.0, 2.5 cm). The ballet dancers delayed the first step and then stepped more quickly through the approach area and onto the lines, which they exited more slowly than the controls, which stepped immediately but then slowed their gait to navigate the line, which they exited faster. Contrary to predictions, the ballet group did not step more precisely, perhaps due to the unique anatomical requirements of ballet dance and/or due to releasing the degrees of freedom under their feet as they fixated ahead more than the controls. The ballet group used significantly fewer fixations of longer duration, and their final quiet eye (QE) duration prior to stepping on the line was significantly longer (2,353.39 ms) than the controls (1,327.64 ms). The control group favoured a proximal gaze strategy allocating 73.33% of their QE fixations to the line/off the line and 26.66% to the exit/visual straight ahead (VSA), while the ballet group favoured a 'look-ahead' strategy allocating 55.49% of their QE fixations to the exit/VSA and 44.51% on the line/off the line. The results are discussed in the light of the development of expertise and the enhanced role of fixations and visual attention when more tasks become more constrained.
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Anxiety has been shown to disrupt visual attention, visuomotor control and subsequent shot location in soccer penalty kicks. However, optimal visual attention has been trained in other far aiming skills, improving performance and resistance to pressure. We therefore asked a team of ten university soccer players to follow a quiet eye (QE; Vickers 1996) training program, designed to align gaze with aiming intention to optimal scoring zones, over a 7-week period. Performance and gaze parameters were compared to a placebo group (ten players) who received no instruction, but practiced the same number of penalty kicks over the same time frame. Results from a retention test indicated that the QE-trained group had more effective visual attentional control, were significantly more accurate, and had 50% fewer shots saved by the goalkeeper than the placebo group. Both groups then competed in a penalty shootout to explore the influence of anxiety on attentional control and shooting accuracy. Under the pressure of the shootout, the QE-trained group failed to maintain their accuracy advantage, despite maintaining more distal aiming fixations of longer duration. The results therefore provide only partial support for the effectiveness of brief QE training interventions for experienced performers.
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A novel, representative task was used to examine skill-based differences in the perceptual and cognitive processes underlying performance on a dynamic, externally paced task. Skilled and less skilled soccer players were required to move and interact with life-size, action sequences involving 11 versus 11 soccer situations filmed from the perspective of a central defender in soccer. The ability of participants to anticipate the intentions of their opponents and to make decisions about how they should respond was measured across two separate experiments. In Experiment 1, visual search behaviors were examined using an eye-movement registration system. In Experiment 2, retrospective verbal reports of thinking were gathered from a new sample of skilled and less skilled participants. Skilled participants were more accurate than less skilled participants at anticipating the intentions of opponents and in deciding on an appropriate course of action. The skilled players employed a search strategy involving more fixations of shorter duration in a different sequential order and toward more disparate and informative locations in the display when compared with the less skilled counterparts. The skilled players generated a greater number of verbal report statements with a higher proportion of evaluation, prediction, and planning statements than the less skilled players, suggesting they employed more complex domain-specific memory representations to solve the task. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.
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Previous research on gaze behaviour in sport has typically reported summary fixation statistics thereby largely ignoring the temporal sequencing of gaze. In the present study on penalty kicking in soccer, our aim was to apply a Markov chain modelling method to eye movement data obtained from goalkeepers. Building on the discrete analysis of gaze employed by Dicks et al. (Atten Percept Psychophys 72(3):706-720, 2010b), we wanted to statistically model the relative probabilities of the goalkeeper's gaze being directed to different locations throughout the penalty taker's approach (Dicks et al. in Atten Percept Psychophys 72(3):706-720, 2010b). Examination of gaze behaviours under in situ and video-simulation task constraints reveals differences in information pickup for perception and action (Attention, Perception and Psychophysics 72(3), 706-720). The probabilities of fixating anatomical locations of the penalty taker were high under simulated movement response conditions. In contrast, when actually required to intercept kicks, the goalkeepers initially favoured watching the penalty taker's head but then rapidly shifted focus directly to the ball for approximately the final second prior to foot-ball contact. The increased spatio-temporal demands of in situ interceptive actions over laboratory-based simulated actions lead to different visual search strategies being used. When eye movement data are modelled as time series, it is possible to discern subtle but important behavioural characteristics that are less apparent with discrete summary statistics alone.
Concurrent exploration of the Bereitschaftspotential (BP) and quiet eye period (QE) was implemented to assess potential mechanisms underlying psychomotor skills that differentiate expert and near-expert performers. Twenty golfers were classified by their USGA handicap rating as either a high handicap (HH; near-expert) or low handicap (LH; expert) to permit skill-based inferences. Participants completed 90 trials during which QE duration, BP activity, and putting performance were recorded. The application of single-subject analyses illustrated that LH golfers were more accurate and less variable in their performance than the HH group. Systematic differences in QE duration and BP were also observed, with experts exhibiting a prolonged quiet eye period and greater cortical activation in the right-central region compared with non-experts. A significant association between cortical activation and QE duration was also noted. The results of this investigation lend support to the motor programming/preparation function of the QE period. Practical and theoretical implications are presented and suggestions for future empirical work provided.
The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of an intervention designed to train effective visual attentional control (quiet eye-training) for a far aiming skill, and determine whether such training protected against attentional disruptions associated with performing under pressure. Sixteen novice participants wore a mobile eye-tracker to assess their visual attentional control (quiet eye) during the completion of 520 basketball free throws carried out over 8 days. They first performed 40 pre-test free throws and were randomly allocated into a quiet eye (QE) training or Control group (technical instruction only). Participants then performed 360 free throws during a training period and a further 120 test free throws under conditions designed to manipulate the level of anxiety experienced. The QE trained group maintained more effective visual attentional control and performed significantly better in the pressure test compared to the Control group, providing support for the efficacy of attentional training for visuo-motor skills.