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Poster D85

Neural Dynamics of Expert Sensorimotor Integration: Unveiling Athlete Mastery Beyond Their Specialized Domain

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Saskia Wilken1 (; 1Fernuniversität in Hagen

Expert athletes in fast-paced sports, such as racket sports, exhibit sensorimotor performances at the biological limit. Previous research linked this to a more efficient neuronal implementation of sensorimotor integration processes during the specialized sport. This study investigates the neural processes underlying continuous monitoring of movement consequences with differing degrees of feedback in expert athletes in a non-domain specific task. The research is grounded in the ideomotor theory, emphasizing the brain's encoding of actions based on observable consequences. In the current study, we employed a pursuit-tracking task, where athletes and controls track a moving target using a joystick. Tracking conditions include visible or invisible target and cursor. These conditions allow to manipulate the availability of feedback about tracking success. The current research confirms athletes' superior sensorimotor performance as reflected by the pursuit-tracking task performance. Additionally, we found that when visual feedback about indicator location is withdrawn, participants struggle with keeping the indicator on the goal but improve in moving the indicator in the same direction as the goal. Source reconstruction of EEG data revealed different task-related modulations in theta frequency band activity in brain regions associated with continuous sensorimotor integration between athletes and controls. This study provides insights into expertise-related changes in neural sensorimotor integration processes, contributing to a neuroscientific foundation for training effects. Methodologically, the study expands the pursuit-tracking task paradigm by introducing an invisible target condition and novel tracking data analysis methods, enhancing the continuous pursuit-tracking paradigm and paving the way for future research in continuous sensorimotor integration.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Motor control


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April 13–16  |  2024