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Joan N. Vickers and A. Mark Williams

Considerable debate has arisen about whether brain activity in elite athletes is characterized by an overall quieting, or neural efficiency in brain processes, or whether elite performance is characterized by activation of two simultaneous networks. One network exercises cognitive control using increased theta activation of premotor and cingulate gyrus, whereas the second reduces alpha activation in an inhibitory network that prevents the intrusion of debilitating thoughts emanating from the temporal lobe and other areas. Also, there is controversy about how a long-duration “quiet eye” (QE) can fit within a single efficient neural system, or whether a dual system where both increased cognitive control and reduced inhibitory processes has advantages. The literature on neural efficiency, the QE, and theta cognitive control, suggest that a long-duration QE promotes both an increase in theta band activation of the medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate and reduced activation and inhibition of the temporal regions during high-pressure situations when a high level of focused, cognitive control is essential.


Since the 1890s, the field of applied sport psychology has gained increasing visibility within the sport and exercise science, psychology, and mainstream communities. Associated with this enhanced visibility has been an increase in the numbers of education and training pathways, registration and licensure schemes, and people offering services. At the same time, there has also been increasing recognition that applied practitioners operate in a range of domains, including sport, where there is a need for clients to respond to stressful, often competitive, environmental demands and perform to high levels, such as the performing arts and music, business, medicine, the military, and public speaking. These practitioners do not need to be interested in sport, and they come from a diverse range of backgrounds. As sport and performance psychologists have emerged and formed a loose and porous community, researchers have documented their technical and personal competencies, the ways in which they help clients, the principles guiding their development toward expertise, and some of the ethical and other demands placed on them as helping professionals. This knowledge can be used to identify ways that these individuals can be helped to develop their knowledge, skills, and character so they can form salubrious relationships with clients and assist performers across various domains to achieve their goals and resolve issues.


Peter Pfordresher

Music performance involves precise motor control that is coordinated with higher order planning to convey complex structural information. In addition, music performance usually involves motor tasks that are not learned spontaneously (as in the use of the vocal apparatus), the reproduction of preestablished sequences (notated or from memory), and synchronized joint performance with one or more other musicians. Music performance also relies on a rich repertoire of musical knowledge that can be used for purposes of expressive variation and improvisation. As such, the study of music performance provides a way to explore learning, motor control, memory, and interpersonal coordination in the context of a real-world behavior. Music performance skills vary considerably in the population and reflect interactions between genetic predispositions and the effect of intensive practice. At the same time, research suggests that most individuals have the capacity to perform music through singing or learning an instrument, and in this sense music performance taps into a universal human propensity for communication and coordination with conspecifics.