Event-related potentials and reaction times were compared between athletes and non-athletes using a serial choice reaction task to obtain basic knowledge on cognitive information processing ability of athletes. Three sets of oddball tasks were conducted using visual stimuli that demanded complex assessments. The task was to raise the difficulty step by step from task 1 to 3. Results indicated that the P3 latency of the athlete group was shorter than that of the non-athlete group for all the tasks. Moreover, although the P3 amplitude of the athlete group had been amplifying from task 1 to 3, while the non-athlete group had been attenuated. There was also an interaction between the reaction times. Furthermore, there were no differences between the groups for the task 1, whereas there were differences for the task 2 and task 3, with the athlete group showing significantly shorter reaction times. The results of the reaction times and the P3 latency time obtained in this study indicated that the cognitive processing of stimuli was superior in the athlete group compared to the non-athlete group. Furthermore, athletes processed stimuli using fewer processing resources than non-athletes, which facilitates athletes to continue rapid information processing even in the case of tasks with increasing difficulty.
Awareness of failure is essential for efficient motor learning. We verified the effect of motivation using monetary reward and punishment on internal performance monitoring (PM) activity by assessing correct response negativity (CRN) and error-related negativity (ERN) to evaluate enhanced detection of error. Twenty healthy participants performed cognitive tasks under the reward-approach (RAP) condition, wherein a reward was provided for every correct trial, and the punishment-avoidance (PAV) condition, in which a fine was imposed for every error trial. We applied a behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and behavioral activation system (BAS) scale presenting a personality state of approach and avoidance toward reward and punishment. The ERN was greater in the PAV condition than that in the RAP condition. The physiological source of error related activation (ERN-CRN) was the cingulate cortex using standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA). In addition, the physiological source in the background of the ERN increase under the PAV condition was the orbitofrontal cortex. Furthermore, there was a negative correlation (r=-0.497) between the increase in ERN (ΔERN=ERNPAV-ERNRAP) and BAS scale score (the tendency to approach the reward). These results confirm that PM activity related to detection of error in the orbitofrontal cortex was increased by punishment. Moreover, the increase in PM activity in the error trial tends to decrease for a subject with a high tendency to approach the reward.
The present study aimed to clarify the strategy of decision-making and visual search of baseball catchers in a situation that requires directions to teammates on a play. Collegiate baseball catchers, fielders, and non-ballgame players (n=10 in each group) watched a series of video images showing simulated sacrifice bunt situations recorded from the catcher’s point of view. The participants wore an eye movement tracker and made a decision about instructing the pitcher where to throw the ball (i.e., toward either the first or second base) by pressing a button at an appropriate time. After each trial, the participants answered a question about the objects to which attention was mainly directed. Results revealed that 1) catchers made better decisions based on higher signal detection sensitivity, compared with fielders and novices; 2) baseball players (catchers and fielders) had a strategy of decision-making to avoid the risk of losing scores due to erroneous decision; and 3) the catchers mainly directed attention to the ball at the time of bat-ball impact, and shifted attention to the pitcher and runner at the time of decision-making, while keeping their gaze on the ball from the time of impact to that of decision-making. These results suggest that catchers demonstrate higher signal detection sensitivity, a more specific judgment bias based on baseball experience, and a more efficient visual search strategy.