Research

Projects

EU: Be a Winner in elite sports and Employment before and after...

EU: Be a Winner in elite sports and Employment before and after athletic Retirement (B-WISER)

Since January 2017, the Institute of Psychology participates in the project ‘Be a Winner in elite sports and Employment before and after athletic Retirement’ (short: B-WISER). This 2-year project is Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and aims at optimizing the employability of (former) elite athletes.

Finance (€ 0.4M) will allow 13 partners and 39 experts from six EU Member States (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) to conduct research on how the employment of athletes and ex-athletes can be optimized within Europe.

In the opening phase, the B-WISER project will identify existing structures and measures on the support of ‘elite sport and employment’. Subsequently, the project will identify the competences that athletes require to combine ‘elite sport and employment ', and also the competences they require to successfully make the transition from elite sport to the labour market at the end of their elite sports career.

In the next phases, the B-WISER project will research the added value of employing (former) athletes for employers and identify and develop best practices in the the participating countries to optimize the matching process between (former) athletes and (future) employers. This project will allow educational institutions, sport governing bodies, employers and career counsellors in the participating countries to optimize their support and guidance in ‘elite sport and employment' trajectories.

The partnership, consisting of universities, national and international Olympic and Paralympic Committees (NOC, BPC, IOC, IPC), elite sports centres, experts in career counseling (Adecco Athlete Career Programme), experts in employment and HR (Kapito HR, Unizo, UEAPME) and international sport experts (IOC, IPC, EOC) will be coordinated by Prof. Wylleman of ‘Vrije Universiteit Brussel’. Dr. Babett Lobinger and Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab will represent the German Sport University Cologne in this project, contributing as much a possible to the project from their know-how and experience; they will be supported by research assistant Sinikka Heisler and Franziska Kalde.   

 

B-WISER website: www.bwiser.eu 

B-WISER twitter: @BWiser_DC

B-WISER representatives GSU: Dr. Babett LobingerProf. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab

B-WISER EU-coordinator: Infonospam-­bwiser.eu 

DFG: The groundedness of temporal and spatial representations in...

DFG: The groundedness of temporal and spatial representations in movement: Examining the bi-directionality and asymmetry hypotheses from an embodied cognition perspective

Project Management:
Jonna Löffler (PhD Student)

Principal Investigators:
Prof. Dr. Dr. M. Raab, Dr. Rouwen Canal Bruland (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Duration:
November 2014-November 2017

Funding:
DFG

Embodied cognition posits that abstract conceptual knowledge such as mental representations of time and space are at least partially grounded in sensory-motor experiences. Assuming a bi-directional link, it is hypothesized that changes to the motor system (i.e., by means of movements) impact on perceptions of time and space, and changes to representations of time and space influence motor behavior. The aim of the proposed research project is to empirically and systematically examine the bi-directionality hypothesis from an embodiment perspective that is grounded in human movement. Intriguing insights into our understanding of abstract domains such as representations of time indicate that representations of time are understood by means of spatial metaphors. Interestingly, however, while spatial metaphors are paramount in shaping our understanding of time, temporal metaphors seem of lesser relevance when making spatial judgments. This asymmetry in metaphorical mappings of time and space allows us to generate straightforward, embodiment hypotheses and to put these to close experimental scrutiny. The unique contribution of this research project is to examine the bi-directionality and the asymmetry hypotheses while measuring the impact of the qualities (i.e. kinematic characteristics) of whole-body movements on temporal and spatial representations and vice versa, that is, the impact of time- or space-oriented metaphorical instructions on the qualities of whole-body movements.

DFG: Auditory reafferences in action and perception

DFG: Auditory reafferences in action and perception

Project Management until 2014: 
Christian Kennel (PhD Student), Dr. Alexandra Pizzera (Project Management) 

Principal Investigators: 
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab, Dr. Tanja Hohmann (German Sport University Cologne), Prof. Dr. Ricarda I. Schubotz (Westfälische Wilhelms- Universität Münster)

Funding: 
DFG

Duration: 
2011-2014
Continuation: 2016 2019 "Auditive Re-Afferenzen in der Bewegungskontrolle? Behaviorale und neurophysiologische Effekte der Kompensation während Interferenz und Deprivation"

The project "Auditory reafferences in action and perception" deals with the connection between perception and action. The usage of auditory reafferences extends herewith the already existing knowledge specifically on visual perception and action. First, the auditory sense is a functional different system - whereas action can be perceived through auditory information optimally. In addition, the use of reafferences is accompanied by a special closeness of representations and stimulus material, which for example cannot be achieved in experiments using visual stimuli (perspective issues). Furthermore, the use of stimuli derived from a complex and continuous movement task forms a comprehensive basis for an application-specific transfer. The results obtained from the experiments show that action influences perception (Experiment 1). More specifically, with an increasing quality of action and related representations, the quality of auditory perception increases. This perception is not based on specific auditory features such as temporal structure or the amplitude range (Experiment 2). Compared to this, perception shows a specific influence on action as well. The quality of action within a complex movement task deteriorates significantly with a manipulation of the auditory feedback (Experiment 3). With awareness of the improper or lack of auditory feedback, a so far not thoroughly investigated compensation mechanism brings the quality of the complex movement to an approximately normal level. Training with auditory reafferences (Experiment 4) shows that hurdling performance (running time and movement quality) increases both through the use of faster and slower than real time movement sounds. The results of this project therefore represent an extension of theoretical and practical knowledge.

 

 

DFG: Major Research Instrumentation „Movement Analysis System“

DFG: Major Research Instrumentation „Movement Analysis System“

Project Partners: 
Prof. Dr. Dr. M. Raab, Prof. Dr. O. Bock, Prof. Dr. H. Strüder

Funding: 
DFG

Laufende Projekte in der Bewegungs- und Neurowissenschaft sind durch die Anschaffung von Eye-Tracking-, Kinematik-Erfassungssystemen, und mobilem EEG maßgeblich erweiterbar. Die Projekte  an der Sporthochschule, welche durch die Projektpartner realisiert werden sollen, sind ohne diese System nur schwer durchführbar, da ein Einsatz in den Projekten eine Kombination von Messsystemen vor Ort erfordert und komplexe, z.T. simultane Bewegungserfassungen notwendig sind. Derartige Systeme und vor allem deren Kombination sind an der Deutschen Sporthochschule (DSHS) nicht vorhanden, so dass eine systematische Bearbeitung der Forschungsfragen ohne diese unmöglich ist. Kooperationsvereinbarungen innerhalb der DSHS (Prof. Strüder, Prof. Bock) sowie mit Partnern (MPI Neurologische Forschung für MRT-Aufnahmen; Freie Universität Amsterdam; Universität Potsdam) etablieren einen Forscherverbund.
Zentrale Forschungsschwerpunkte des Bereiches Leistungspsychologie werden die Geräte nutzen, um sich mit folgenden Fragestellungen zu beschäftigen: Dem Einfluss von Valenz und Arousal von Emotionen auf die Optionsauswahl und die Optionsausführung, dem Einfluss motorischer oder visueller Vorerfahrungen auf die Kampfrichterentscheidungen, kulturell bezogenen Trainings- und Spielerfahrungen und ihren Einfluss auf Blickbewegungen sowie intuitive und deliberative Entscheidungsprozesse, neuronale Implementierung des Yips im Golf, neuronale Korrelate von akustischer Eigen- und Fremd-Erkennung.  Desweiteren sollen die Geräte im Kontext von „Embodied Cognition“ einsetzt werden: In einer Kooperation mit der Freien Universität Amsterdam wird der Effekt von räumlichen und zeitlichen Instruktionen auf die Bewegungssteuerung sowie der Einfluss von Bewegungen auf die Repräsentation von Raum und Zeit geprüft. In einem weiteren DFG-Neuantrag mit der Universität Potsdam (Prof. Fischer) wird der Effekt von Arm- und Handbewegungen auf Problemlöseaufgaben bzw. mathematische Aufgaben geprüft, sowie dessen neuronale Implementierung. Auch im „Joint Action“-Kontext sollen die Geräte eingesetzt werden, dort vor allem hinsichtlich  der Bewegungskontrolle und Wahrnehmung, sowie der Beziehung von Emotionen und der Generierung und Auswahl von Optionen. Die Gruppe um Prof. Bock befasst sich mit dem Effekt des Kontextes einer Handlung (wie das Greifen), sowie dessen Interaktion mit Altern und der Apraxie. Schließlich befassen sich Prof. Strüder und Dr. Mierau mit den kortikalen Prozessen komplexer Ganzkörper-Bewegungen als Funktion des Fertigkeitsniveaus.  

DFG: Flexibility in Multitasking: Impact of Predictability in...

DFG: Flexibility in Multitasking: Impact of Predictability in Visuomotor Performance

Project Management:
Laura Bröker (PhD Student)

Principal Investigators:
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab, Prof. Dr. Stefan Künzel, Dr. Rita de Oliviera

Funding:
DFG

Multitasking occurs when two or more tasks are executed simultaneously. Most studies have focused on the parallel execution of two tasks which is known as dual-task paradigms. It is mostly observed that performance decreases in dual-task conditions compared to single-task conditions. The mechanisms underpinning this dual-task interference have been extensively investigated. The research strategy was to infer the duration of cognitive processing from the reaction times (RT) measured in experiments. In history, different theories for the emergence of dual-task interference have been developed and gained support. For example claim bottleneck theories the existence of a central entity that processes information serially. If this entity is busy, other processes have to queue until the entity is freed. Welford (1974) and Pashler (1994) identified the response selection as this entity, but others have argued for bottlenecks earlier or later in the information processing stream (Meyer & Kieras, 1997). A different approach is to claim capacity models accepting parallel processing but postulate an overall capacity limitation which is shared, either in a global unspecific way (Kahneman, 1973), or as multiple modular capacities (Navon & Gopher, 1979; Wickens, 2008).

While these experimental paradigms successfully explored cognitive processes and dual-task interferences, they are unsuitable for uncovering the mechanisms of interference. This is eminent because knowing the mechanisms would allow discovering strategies to minimize interference. In RT paradigms it is essential that neither the stimulus nor the response can be anticipated, because anticipation would disrupt the validity of RT measurement. We argue that in contrast to the lab situation, in everyday life anticipation and planning of tasks are common ways to control movements. For example, Künzell et al. (2013) showed that everyday movements are planned in advance in a way that allows optimal control in the critical phase of the movement. Ruthruff et al. (2006) speculated that one way to cope with dual-task requirements is to plan one task in advance and buffer that plan; while this task is feedforward controlled by the buffered plan, the second task can be planned and executed without interference. Whereas Ruthruff et al. (2006) eliminated the application of predictive strategies in their experimental design, we will investigate how these strategies would enhance performance in multitask situations. We argue that this prediction strategy is dominant in well-learned daily life activities for solving dual-task and multitask demands. For example, walking requires sampling a tracking path for obstacles, bumps, and puddles. The steps are monitored through the anticipated effects of these features (Patla, 1998). Soccer and basketball players also execute ball dribbling in feedforward control while perceiving the play patterns of teammates and opponents to make tactical decisions (Esteves, de Oliveira, & Araújo, 2011). We suggest that dual-tasks can be successfully executed when at least one of the tasks is well learned and occurs in a predictable environment (situative enhancement).

Our proposal focusses on how predictability can aid multitask performance through situative enhancement. This is a crucial factor in the research cluster on flexibility (Kiesel, Müller, & Koch, 2014) because it focusses on strategies overcoming possible limitations in performance. Furthermore, it complements research on situative impairment (Kiesel et al., 2014). Whereas Kiesel et al. focus on situative impairment of multitask performance, we will focus on predictability as a source of situative enhancement of multitask performance. This idea is not recent (Ruthruff et al., 2006), but previous research lacked a straightforward theoretical explanation and empirical investigations. Nevertheless, some theoretical ideas are compatible with the notion that we refer to in the next paragraph.

For more information on "Human performance under multiple cognitive task requirements: From basic mechanisms to optimized task scheduling": DFG Priority Programm (Schwerpunktprogramm) SPP 1772   

BISp: Yips - a learnt disorder of motor skills? Analysis of the...

BISp: Yips - a learnt disorder of motor skills? Analysis of the phenomenon and intervention possibilities of the putting-yips in golf

Principal Investigators:
Prof. Dr. Dr. M. Raab, Dr. Bernd Gerland

Project Management:
Dr. Bernd Gerland

 Duration: 
January 2013 – December 2014 

Funding:
BISp Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaft 

 

Disturbances of movement are frequently observed in sports and other activities. The present research project examines the so-called yips occurring during putting in golf sports. These yips are characterized by an involuntary tremor of the forearms respectively wrists when moving the golf club to the ball and may lead to a reduction of the player's performance. The etiology has yet to be determined but current explanatory approaches range from psychological causes to neurologically-based disorders. Due to ambiguous causal attributions there are no scientifically proven intervention methods. In the current research project a specific intervention program was carried out with golf players afflicted with the yips to regain their motor control. The interpretation of effects of exploratory performed exercises generated new hypotheses about the yips and led to a broader understanding of the phenomenon that has been little explored until now. In the following a study on diagnostics and an intervention study are demonstrated.

The results of the single case study suggest that the yips is not a neurophysiological problem. The ability to rapidly achieve yips-free movement structures in all three individual cases could be an indication that the yips might be classified as psychological phenomenon. The immediate effects of context influencing exercises on the yips and the statements of the volunteers during and after completion of the intervention phase give some evidence that possibly the yips is an unconsciously acquired disturbance of movement. In this regard conditioning processes in the moment of hitting the ball with the golf club could play an important role. The yips reflects an increased natural “basic jerk” when hitting the ball which got out of control due to conditioned anticipation processes in light of the moment of hit. Likewise, these inappropriate learning processes could be transferred from other sport disciplines with similar body movement and hit patterns into the golf sports (“transfer yips”). The specific training exercises take on the function of confrontation training measure. Thus, the results achieved are an expression of extinction learning processes. They also influence the mental and emotional level and provide some evidence that there might be a relationship between cognition, emotion and behavior.  

Breathe slower to better focus under pressure? The effects of slow...

Breathe slower to better focus under pressure? The effects of slow paced breathing on cognitive executive performance through vagal tone change (Hochschulinterne Forschungsförderung)

Principal Investigator and Project Management: 
Dr. Sylvain Laborde

Duration:
Februar 2016 – Dezember 2016 

Funding: 
Hochschulinterne Forschungsförderung, Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln 

Being able to stay focused under the pressure of the competition and to make the best decisions when the outcome of the game is at stake is crucial for athletes to reach peak performance. Interestingly, a simple, efficient, and cost-effective technique might help athletes to reach this goal: slow paced breathing. Theoretical and empirical accounts suggest that slow paced breathing may be an efficient and reliable way to increase vagal tone. Vagal tone, in turn, is associated positively with self-regulation at the cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and health levels, according to the neurovisceral integration model. So far, the best way to realize slow paced breathing exercises is unknown, for example concerning parameters such as the most optimal breathing frequency, the length of the exercise, as well as the duration of the effects. Moreover, while a theoretical link through the resonance frequency model and the neurovisceral integration model could be established, the effects of slow paced breathing on cognitive executive functioning through vagal tone change have not been investigated yet. The objectives of this project are twofold: first, based on a preliminary pilot study, it aims to answer three main questions to clarify the characteristics of slow paced breathing that ensure the higher rise in vagal tone. Second, it aims to investigate the influence of slow paced breathing on cognitive executive performance. Third, a smartphone app will be developed based on the findings of this project, in order to enable people to manage easily the stress faced in their daily lives. 

Influence of physical and psychological stress on decision-making...

Influence of physical and psychological stress on decision-making performance in soccer referees (Hochschulinterne Forschungsförderung)

Principal Investigators and Project Management:
Dr. Alexandra Pizzera und Dr. Patrick Wahl

Duration:
March 2016 – March 2017

Funding:
Hochschulinterne Forschungsförderung, German Sport University Cologne  

Soccer referees have to make quick and accurate decisions while experiencing physical stress (i.e., fatigue) and psychological stress (i.e., pressure from the crowd, players, media). Researchers have an important role to play in order to help referees make the best decisions while experiencing high levels of stress, for example during international competitions. Concerning the influence of stress on referees’ decision-making performance, researchers so far took two separate directions. On the one hand, research examined the physical demands that are put on referees during a game. On the other hand, some studies examined the influence of psychological stress on referees’ decision-making performance. In a new book on research and practice of sports officiating, the world-leading experts in this field summarized the state of the art (MacMahon, Mascarenhas, Plessner, Pizzera, Oudejans, & Raab (2015). However, several new questions emerged that have not been addressed up until today, such as how referees cope with the difficult situation in that they usually experience both types of stress simultaneously. Therefore, the aim of the proposed project is to investigate within one study the influence of both physical and psychological stress on soccer referees’ decision-making performance. To investigate this influence, the decision-making performance of soccer referees will be assessed under different conditions, simulating the physical stress and psychological stress put on referees during a game. This will be done simultaneously in that referees will be asked to make decisions while running on a treadmill and/or being exposed to an audience/auditory stress. The results could help to better understand the links between action, cognition and emotion, specifically the effects of fatigue and psychological stress on cognitive processes. Concerning the applied added value of the project, individual fitness reports addressing both physical and decision-making performance of referees, linked with specific stress management methods that referees could use during and outside the competition, could be developed. In addition, referees would be able to train in a highly ecologically valid environment, besides the games they are refereeing on the field. Specifically, the combination of physical and psychological stress that referees experience on the field could be simulated in the lab, providing more training opportunities.  

High-Five vs. Power-Posing: The differentiation of several...

High-Five vs. Power-Posing: The differentiation of several prototypical movements on a physiological-hormonal, behavioral, motivational, and social level

Principal Investigators:
Damian Jeraj, Franziska Lautenbach, Jonna Löffler, Lisa Musculus

Project Management:
Damian Jeraj, Franziska Lautenbach, Jonna Löffler, Lisa Musculus 

Duration:
January 2016 – December 2016

Funding:
Hochschulinterne Forschungsförderung, German Sport University Cologne


In sport contexts, upward movements are not only common during the execution of the sport itself, but also to encourage, cheer, or power each other up. Based on the theory of the biosocial model of status and dominance (Mazur, 2013) and embodiment approaches (Barsalou, 2008), we therefore compare several prototypical movements and assess physiological-hormonal, behavioral, motivational, and social parameter. The added value for the applied field of sport psychology is the development of theoretical based, empirical proved interventions.  

DFG: Embodied cognition in multitasking: Stimulus-hand proximity and...

DFG: Embodied cognition in multitasking: Stimulus-hand proximity and cognitive control in dual-task performance

Project Management:
Clara Schweinitz (PhD Student)

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Roman Liepelt

Funding:
DFG

Duration:
2015-2018

Multiple task performance has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon of the modern world, as we face a constantly growing demand on multitasking abilities in everyday and work life. For example, the development of modern technical devices more and more demand visual-manual interactions within a shared visuo-spatial region (e.g., hand-held devices, tablet control), which are continuously implemented in complex real life multitasking environments, such as in cockpits of trains and aircrafts. From research in embodied cognition, however, it is known, that cognitive processing is not independent of the body. Recent research demonstrated that the presence of hands close to a visual stimulus (e.g., within the visuo-spatial attentional focus) biases the allocation of attention to the area near the hand and enhances the engagement of cognitive control for stimuli in near hand space. In the special context of dual tasks, with multiple stimuli being presented in near-hand space, we aim at specifying which control parameters are affected in proximal stimulus conditions. We therefore ask whether altered visuo-spatial attention targets S1 and S2 equally within left- and right-hand space and how hand position determines cognitive control parameters relating to central switching operations, i.e., task set shifts at the bottleneck. A more thorough and in-depth processing of the currently relevant stimulus under proximal stimulus conditions might delay disengagement and shifts to secondary task component processing. Furthermore, we assess the impact of privileged stimulus processing in near-hand space on prioritization of task order and the flexibility of reconfiguration of task order switches. By measuring hand proximity effects on dual-task performance, we aim to provide a new research perspective on human multitasking behavior by emphasizing the role of action-perception interaction for determining cognitive control in dual-task situations. An embodied cognition approach to multitasking will, therefore, not only provide important theoretical scientific information concerning the flexibility of cognitive control for the coordination and scheduling of task sets in dual-task situations but might provide fertile grounds for transfer into applied cognitive sciences and technical developments.

For more information on "Human performance under multiple cognitive task requirements: From basic mechanisms to optimized task scheduling": DFG Priority Programm (Schwerpunktprogramm) SPP 1772 

DFG: Investigating the role of attention and actor similarity for...

DFG: Investigating the role of attention and actor similarity for joint action

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Roman Liepelt

Funding:
DFG

Duration:
2014-2016

Human information processing often occurs when we act together with others to achieve common goals (joint action). One of the most prominent paradigms to test joint action is the social Simon paradigm in which two people share a Simon task. When two participants perform this version of the Simon task together, a (social) Simon effect occurs (i.e., performance is better with spatial stimulus-response S-R correspondence), but no Simon effect is usually observed when participants perform the task alone. Accordingly, joint action has been proposed to be fundamentally different to individual action where one person acts alone to achieve his/her own goals. During the first project phase we found evidence that Simon-like effects can be induced when an individual person interacts with a robot or an event-producing object. The aim of the second project phase is to answer the question if joint action is mediated by dedicated social mechanisms or by domain-general processes. Using behavioral methods this project aims to specify the role of attention for joint action. Further, this project is aimed to specify the role of actor similarity and spatial, body and agency information for joint action. By applying real joint action scenarios we plan to test and extend various aspects of the cognitive model of referential coding for joint action that we have developed during the first project phase. By specifying the cognitive mechanisms underlying joint action control, the planned work is aimed to provide important answers to one of the most central questions of our time: What are the cognitive mechanisms underlying joint action that may have paved the way for our cultural development and all modern societies?

 

 

DFG: Cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying the social Simon...

DFG: Cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying the social Simon effect

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Roman Liepelt

Funding:
DFG

Duration:
DFG 2011–2014
EU 2008–2011

The ability to coordinate our actions with those of others is crucial for our success as individuals and in social interactions. One of the biggest mysteries in cognitive neuroscience of the current decade is how joint action differs from individual task processing. One of the most prominent examples of joint action is the social Simon effect. When two participants perform this version of the Simon task together, a Simon effect occurs (i.e., performance is better with spatial stimulus-response S-R correspondence), but no effect is observed when participants perform the task alone. The social Simon effect is typically considered as a good index for action co-representation. Based on recent experimental data we assume that dimensional overlap with respect to spatial and non-spatial task features plays an important role for the formation of the social Simon effect. The applied research is aimed to test and extend this assumption investigating the role of attention and dimensional overlap in mediating the social Simon effect. Further, we will test how participants can effectively separate events for self and other reducing dimensional overlap and how this is achieved in the human brain.

 

 

Evolution, development and intentional control of imitation

Evolution, development and intentional control of imitation

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Roman Liepelt

Funding:
EDICI-12929 

Duration:
2005–2008

My research foci are the cortical and cognitive mechanisms that are involved in the inhibition of imitative response tendencies. In particular I investigate conditions under which the observation of biological movements leads to an activation of an internal motor representations. Especially the anterior fronto median cortex (aFMC) and the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) area might play a crucial role in the inhibition of imitative behavior. Methodologically I use functional MRI and behavioral methods to investigate these research issues.

  

DFG: Cognitive and neural practice-related changes in the ability to...

DFG: Cognitive and neural practice-related changes in the ability to coordinate two tasks

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Roman Liepelt

Funding:
DFG

Duration:
2002-2006

A different research focus is the investigation of executive processes that are required to coordinate the processing stages in dual tasks. It has often been assumed that executive processes control the temporal scheduling of potentially interfering processing stages. As a result of this scheduling, dual-task costs, e.g., an increase in processing time or errors during the simultaneous processing of two tasks compared to the processing of single tasks, can be observed. However, some recent results indicate that dual-task costs may disappear after prolonged dual-task practice. One main goal of this project is to specify the nature of the learning processes leading to the disappearance of dual-task costs in the PRP paradigm. What exactly is learned during repeated dual-task performance? That is, which kind of executive knowledge enables participants to perform the tasks without any dual-task costs?

  

Dissertation Projects

DFG: Embodied cognition in multitasking: Stimulus-hand proximity and...

DFG: Embodied cognition in multitasking: Stimulus-hand proximity and cognitive control in dual-task performance

Project Management:
Clara Schweinitz (PhD Student)

Principal Investigator:
PD Dr. Roman Liepelt

Funding:
DFG

Duration:
2015-2018

Multiple task performance has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon of the modern world, as we face a constantly growing demand on multitasking abilities in everyday and work life. For example, the development of modern technical devices more and more demand visual-manual interactions within a shared visuo-spatial region (e.g., hand-held devices, tablet control), which are continuously implemented in complex real life multitasking environments, such as in cockpits of trains and aircrafts. From research in embodied cognition, however, it is known, that cognitive processing is not independent of the body. Recent research demonstrated that the presence of hands close to a visual stimulus (e.g., within the visuo-spatial attentional focus) biases the allocation of attention to the area near the hand and enhances the engagement of cognitive control for stimuli in near hand space. In the special context of dual tasks, with multiple stimuli being presented in near-hand space, we aim at specifying which control parameters are affected in proximal stimulus conditions. We therefore ask whether altered visuo-spatial attention targets S1 and S2 equally within left- and right-hand space and how hand position determines cognitive control parameters relating to central switching operations, i.e., task set shifts at the bottleneck. A more thorough and in-depth processing of the currently relevant stimulus under proximal stimulus conditions might delay disengagement and shifts to secondary task component processing. Furthermore, we assess the impact of privileged stimulus processing in near-hand space on prioritization of task order and the flexibility of reconfiguration of task order switches. By measuring hand proximity effects on dual-task performance, we aim to provide a new research perspective on human multitasking behavior by emphasizing the role of action-perception interaction for determining cognitive control in dual-task situations. An embodied cognition approach to multitasking will, therefore, not only provide important theoretical scientific information concerning the flexibility of cognitive control for the coordination and scheduling of task sets in dual-task situations but might provide fertile grounds for transfer into applied cognitive sciences and technical developments.

For more information on "Human performance under multiple cognitive task requirements: From basic mechanisms to optimized task scheduling": DFG Priority Programm (Schwerpunktprogramm) SPP 1772  

DFG: Flexibility in Multitasking: Impact of Predictability in...

DFG: Flexibility in Multitasking: Impact of Predictability in Visuomotor Performance

Project Management:
Laura Bröker (PhD Student)

Principal Investigators:
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab, Prof. Dr. Stefan Künzel, Dr. Rita de Oliviera

Funding:
DFG

Duration:
2015-2018 

Multitasking occurs when two or more tasks are executed simultaneously. Most studies have focused on the parallel execution of two tasks which is known as dual-task paradigms. It is mostly observed that performance decreases in dual-task conditions compared to single-task conditions. The mechanisms underpinning this dual-task interference have been extensively investigated. The research strategy was to infer the duration of cognitive processing from the reaction times (RT) measured in experiments. In history, different theories for the emergence of dual-task interference have been developed and gained support. For example claim bottleneck theories the existence of a central entity that processes information serially. If this entity is busy, other processes have to queue until the entity is freed. Welford (1974) and Pashler (1994) identified the response selection as this entity, but others have argued for bottlenecks earlier or later in the information processing stream (Meyer & Kieras, 1997). A different approach is to claim capacity models accepting parallel processing but postulate an overall capacity limitation which is shared, either in a global unspecific way (Kahneman, 1973), or as multiple modular capacities (Navon & Gopher, 1979; Wickens, 2008).

While these experimental paradigms successfully explored cognitive processes and dual-task interferences, they are unsuitable for uncovering the mechanisms of interference. This is eminent because knowing the mechanisms would allow discovering strategies to minimize interference. In RT paradigms it is essential that neither the stimulus nor the response can be anticipated, because anticipation would disrupt the validity of RT measurement. We argue that in contrast to the lab situation, in everyday life anticipation and planning of tasks are common ways to control movements. For example, Künzell et al. (2013) showed that everyday movements are planned in advance in a way that allows optimal control in the critical phase of the movement. Ruthruff et al. (2006) speculated that one way to cope with dual-task requirements is to plan one task in advance and buffer that plan; while this task is feedforward controlled by the buffered plan, the second task can be planned and executed without interference. Whereas Ruthruff et al. (2006) eliminated the application of predictive strategies in their experimental design, we will investigate how these strategies would enhance performance in multitask situations. We argue that this prediction strategy is dominant in well-learned daily life activities for solving dual-task and multitask demands. For example, walking requires sampling a tracking path for obstacles, bumps, and puddles. The steps are monitored through the anticipated effects of these features (Patla, 1998). Soccer and basketball players also execute ball dribbling in feedforward control while perceiving the play patterns of teammates and opponents to make tactical decisions (Esteves, de Oliveira, & Araújo, 2011). We suggest that dual-tasks can be successfully executed when at least one of the tasks is well learned and occurs in a predictable environment (situative enhancement).

Our proposal focusses on how predictability can aid multitask performance through situative enhancement. This is a crucial factor in the research cluster on flexibility (Kiesel, Müller, & Koch, 2014) because it focusses on strategies overcoming possible limitations in performance. Furthermore, it complements research on situative impairment (Kiesel et al., 2014). Whereas Kiesel et al. focus on situative impairment of multitask performance, we will focus on predictability as a source of situative enhancement of multitask performance. This idea is not recent (Ruthruff et al., 2006), but previous research lacked a straightforward theoretical explanation and empirical investigations. Nevertheless, some theoretical ideas are compatible with the notion that we refer to in the next paragraph.

For more information: DFG Priority Programm (Schwerpunktprogramm) SPP 1772 

DFG: The groundedness of temporal and spatial representations in...

DFG: The groundedness of temporal and spatial representations in movement: Examining the bi-directionality and asymmetry hypotheses from an embodied cognition perspective

Project Management: 
Jonna Loeffler (MSc Psychology, j.loefflernospam-­dshs-koeln.de

Principal Investigators: 
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab, Prof. Dr. Rouwen Cañal-Bruland 

Funding: 
DFG

Duration: 
2014-2017

Theoretical background.
Embodied cognition posits that abstract conceptual knowledge such as mental representations of time and space are at least partially grounded in sensory-motor experiences. Assuming a bi-directional link, it is hypothesized that changes to the motor system (i.e., by means of movements) impact on perceptions of time and space, and changes to representations of time and space influence motor behavior. The aim of the proposed research project is to empirically and systematically examine the bi-directionality hypothesis from an embodiment perspective that is grounded in human movement. Intriguing insights into our understanding of abstract domains such as representations of time indicate that representations of time are understood by means of spatial metaphors. Interestingly, however, while spatial metaphors are paramount in shaping our understanding of time, temporal metaphors seem of lesser relevance when making spatial judgments. This asymmetry in metaphorical mappings of time and space allows us to generate straightforward, embodiment hypotheses and to put these to close experimental scrutiny. The unique contribution of this research project is to examine the bi-directionality and the asymmetry hypotheses while measuring the impact of the qualities (i.e. kinematic characteristics) of whole-body movements on temporal and spatial representations and vice versa, that is, the impact of time- or space-oriented metaphorical instructions on the qualities of whole-body movements.

Research Question. 
How are sensory-motor experiences and abstract representations of space and time linked to each other?

Methods.
On-line processing of ambiguous questions about space and time during movement. 30 participants per group. Dependent Variables: Reference frame, response time.

Heuristic decision-making processes predicting expertise development...

Heuristic decision-making processes predicting expertise development in soccer?

Principal Investigators: 
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab, Dr. Babett Lobinger

Project Management: 
Lisa Musculus (scholarship student: German Academic Scholarship Foundation)


Expert sport performance as a combination of excellent technique and thorough decision-making is of high importance in professional sports. While past research on expertise was dominated by the ‘nature vs. nurture debate’, recent research has been focusing on processes underlying the interaction of natural abilities (nature) and environmental, intrapersonal catalysts (nurture) on athletes’ route to expertise. Conceptually combining naturally-given and nurtured characteristics, heuristics allow the examination of cognitive processes of fast and frugal decision-making in sport. Heading into future directions, the current project applies the simple heuristics of the sports approach and combines it with a developmental perspective for predicting future expertise. Although heuristic decision-making has so far shown to differentiate between varying skill groups in sport, little is known of how decision-making develops across age and how it relates to expertise development. This is also due to a lack of longitudinal studies in sport expertise research.

In order to fill this gap, the goal of the current project is to gain an understanding in how heuristic decision-making develops and whether heuristic decision-making processes can predict (future) expertise. Therefore, a longitudinal cohort study in a professional youth soccer academy will be realized. By testing the young players four times in intervals of six months, their development can be monitored: Heuristic decision-making will be assessed via an established option generation paradigm through a video test. Based on the study results, a combined cognitive-developmental-psychological model of heuristic decision-making in sport will be build. This allows the prediction of the age-specific development of heuristic decision-making processes and their connection to (future) sport expertise. Furthermore, age-specific criteria for talent identification and practical decision-making training can be derived. Summing up, the proposed project holds an added value for theory and methods of expertise research as well as for talent identification in the applied field of sport and other performance domains.

 

 

The Effect of Defensive Pressure on the Hot-Hand Phenomenon in...

The Effect of Defensive Pressure on the Hot-Hand Phenomenon in Basketball

Principal Investigator: 
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab

Project Mangement (contact): 
Peter Csapo (peter.csapo@whu.edu)

Funding: 
Jürgen Manchot Stiftung

This project examines the effect of defensive pressure on the hot-hand phenomenon in basketball. According to this phenomenon, players are more likely to hit their following shot attempt if they have hit their previous shots than if they have missed them. Previous research hypothesized that the opposing team may react to a streaky player’s performance by increasing its defensive pressure and thereby rendering the hot-hand effect unobservable.

The aim of this thesis is to provide an in-depth analysis of this conjecture by considering it from three different perspectives. In Study 1, I analyze changes in the shot- taking behavior of professional basketball players based on offensive metrics and relate these findings to potential defensive adjustments. Study 2 assesses the decision making of professional basketball coaches in an experimental setting and examines whether coaches are likely to adjust their defensive strategy based on an opposing player’s streakiness. Moreover, the effects of such behavior are analyzed by testing the decisions of basketball players as a function of streakiness and applied defensive pressure. Finally, Study 3 directly assesses how defensive pressure changes based on an opposing player’s streakiness in real-game situations through the use of novel defensive metrics. In addition, I analyze how the players’ shooting performance evolves during hot versus cold streaks when controlling for shot difficulty.

Overall, the three studies provide strong evidence that defenders behave according to the hot-hand belief and increase their pressure on presumably hot players. Consequently, players attempt significantly more difficult shots following hot streaks and easier ones following cold streaks. However, after controlling for shot difficulty, no evidence in favor of a hot-hand effect can be found, as the observed players’ performance tends to be slightly lower after hot streaks. For instance, easy shot attempts, i.e., open shots, are hit with a lower accuracy than following cold streaks. Finally, the present work also examines the

 

adaptiveness of hot-hand behavior and concludes that the observed behavior on defense cannot be considered adaptive.

From a theoretical standpoint, the added value of this thesis includes the first-time modeling of the hot-hand heuristic and the specification of the environmental conditions in which it is used by basketball professionals. Furthermore, I define the necessary conditions for the observed behavior by players and coaches to be ecologically rational. To embed the insights of this thesis into a practical context, I also derive recommendations for how athletes, coaches and teams can turn the non-adaptiveness of an opponent’s hot-hand behavior into a strategic advantage and benefit from such behavior.  

Publications: 

Csapo, P., Avugos, S., Raab, M., & Bar-Eli, M. (2014). The effect of perceived streakiness on the shot-taking behaviour of basketball players. European Journal of Sport Science. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2014.982205

Csapo, P., Avugos, S., Raab, M., & Bar-Eli, M. (2015). How should “hot” players in basketball be defended? The use of fast-and-frugal heuristics by basketball coaches and players in response to streakiness. Journal of Sports Sciences. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2014.999251

Csapo, P., & Raab, M. (2014). “Hand down, man down.” Analysis of defensive adjustments in response to the hot hand in basketball using novel defense metrics. PLOS ONE, 9(12): e114184. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114184 

The Error Correction Process of Coaches and Teachers in Gymnastics

The Error Correction Process of Coaches and Teachers in Gymnastics

Project Management:
Damian Jeraj (defense in 2016, scholarship student: Promotionskolleg Unterrichtsforschung der Universität Hildesheim)

In physical education as well as in competitive gymnastics, teachers and coaches support the learner with an error correction in order to provide important aspects to optimize or improve the movement. The aim of the dissertation at hand was to shed light on the error-correction process as to give an optimized feedback to the learner.

Starting from findings in the area of judgment and decision making, a heuristic concept was developed, which includes an influence on the error-correction process by feedback factors. Hereby, the question remained when and how these feedback factors have an effect on the several steps of error correction. Initially, the relevance of the different feedback factors within error correction situations (during physical education lessons & competitive gymnastics sessions) were investigated. A remarkable result was that the own motor experience was the most essential factor according to pre-service teachers. In contrast, coaches rated the own motor experience lowest. Thus, the underlying contents of education seem to be different and should be adapted.

Afterwards, two feedback factors (knowledge & motor experience) were manipulated exploratory via interventions in order to estimate the influential effect on the error perception performance. Against expectation, results revealed no differences compared to the control conditions leading to an interpretation of the results with speculative character. However, future work should consider how and which steps in detail of the error correction are influenced by the feedback factors. A hint for a changed mental structure caused by the manipulation of the feedback factor knowledge is already found on the descriptive level. It should be investigated in principle to what extent the developed heuristic concept should be changed or maintained. Furthermore, a systematic approach might be used to address the question how feedback factors could become objectively measureable.

 

Publications

Jeraj, D. (2016). The Error Correction Process of Coaches and Teachers in Gymnastics (Doctoral dissertation). University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim.

Manuscript I: Jeraj, D., Hennig, L., & Heinen, T. (2015). The Error Correction Process – A Heuristic Concept. In T. Heinen (Ed.) Advances in Visual Perception Research (pp. 193-202). New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Manuscript II: Jeraj, D., Veit, J., Heinen, T., & Raab, M. (2015). How do Gymnastics Coaches Provide Movement Feedback in Training? International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching, 10 (6). 1015 1024.

Manuscript III: Jeraj, D., & Lautenbach, F. (2016). Feedback Factors in Physical Education: From the Pre-service Teachers’ Perspective. International Journal of Physical Education, 2, 35-41.

Manuscript IV: Jeraj, D. (in press). Error Perception in Gymnastics: Two Consecutive Interventions. Science of Gymnastics Journal.

 

 

Since 2014, the project is founded by the University of Hildesheim in form of a stipend (Promotionskolleg Unterrichtsforschung).

Links between Stress and Performance: Cortisol, Emotions, and...

Links between Stress and Performance: Cortisol, Emotions, and Cognition.

Principal Investigator:
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab

Project Management:
Franziska Lautenbach (defense in 2016)

In our competitive society performing well is one of the most essential factors in order to be successful. However performing well can be critical, particularly in stressful and thus, emotional situations. An emotion is “an organized psychophysiological reaction to ongoing relationships with the environment” (Lazarus, 2000, p. 230). One emotion that is often confused with stress and plays an essential role in sport performance is anxiety (Lazarus, 2000). In competitive situations, particularly in sport, anxiety is the most widely researched emotion (Hanin, 2000). One physiological reaction to anxiety is an increase in cortisol (e.g., Buchanan, al'Absi, & Lovallo, 1999). Cortisol is the end-product of a stimulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which responds to a wide range of psychosocial stressors that include ambiguous, novel, uncontrollable, unpredictable stimuli and situations with high ego involvement (Hellhammer & Hellhammer, 2008).

So far, cortisol has mainly been used as a passive marker, indicating how objectively stressed athletes are, for example during their first day of a competition (e.g., Filaire, Alix, Ferrand, & Verger, 2009). The first experimentally controlled study showing a link between cortisol and sports performance focused on a particular performance parameter (i.e., the second tennis serve) before and after an anxiety induction (i.e., the second part of the TSST). A negative correlation between cortisol and service performance was found (Lautenbach et al., 2014), providing first preliminary evidence for a cortisol-performance relationship, whereas the underlying mechanism have not yet been understood.

possible underlying mechanism explaining the cortisol-performance relationship can be found by turning to executive functions (i.e., inhibition including selective attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility; Diamond, 2012). It is generally accepted that cortisol has an impact on cognitive functions (e.g., Suay & Salvador, 2012) because cortisol can pass the blood-brain barrier and glucocorticoid receptors are to be found in almost every organ in the body with an augmented appearance particularly in the prefrontal cortical structures (Putman & Berling, 2011), responsible for higher cognitive functions and thus, sensitive to cortisol changes.

The aim of this PhD is threefold: (i) to write a position paper on the existing literature in the field of sport psychology, integrating research from cognitive psychology and emerge a working hypothesis (i.e., theoretical model) on the underlying mechanisms of the cortisol-performance relationship; (ii) to test the working hypothesis within laboratory settings designed for athletes by adopting cognitive computer tasks used in cognitive psychological research (i.e., emotional Stroop task, emotional n-back task); (iii) to improve previous methodological shortcoming in sport psychological research by increasing cortisol by the so called cold-pressor task, in order to causally attribute changes in attention and (sport) performance to cortisol levels. A potential intervention study is contemplated in order to improve beneficial levels of cortisol for better performance.

Publication(s):

Lautenbach, F., Laborde, S., Achtzehn, S., & Raab, M. (2014). Preliminary evidence of salivary cortisol predicting performance in a controlled setting. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 42, 218-224.

   

DFG: Auditory reafferences in action and perception

DFG: Auditory reafferences in action and perception

Project Management: 
Christian Kennel (defense in 2015), Dr. Alexandra Pizzera (Project Management) 

Principal Investigators: 
Prof. Dr. Dr. Markus Raab, Dr. Tanja Hohmann (German Sport University Cologne), Prof. Dr. Ricarda I. Schubotz (Westfälische Wilhelms- Universität Münster)

Funding: 
DFG

Duration: 
2011-2014


The project "Auditory reafferences in action and perception" deals with the connection between perception and action. The usage of auditory reafferences extends herewith the already existing knowledge specifically on visual perception and action. First, the auditory sense is a functional different system - whereas action can be perceived through auditory information optimally. In addition, the use of reafferences is accompanied by a special closeness of representations and stimulus material, which for example cannot be achieved in experiments using visual stimuli (perspective issues). Furthermore, the use of stimuli derived from a complex and continuous movement task forms a comprehensive basis for an application-specific transfer. The results obtained from the experiments show that action influences perception (Experiment 1). More specifically, with an increasing quality of action and related representations, the quality of auditory perception increases. This perception is not based on specific auditory features such as temporal structure or the amplitude range (Experiment 2). Compared to this, perception shows a specific influence on action as well. The quality of action within a complex movement task deteriorates significantly with a manipulation of the auditory feedback (Experiment 3). With awareness of the improper or lack of auditory feedback, a so far not thoroughly investigated compensation mechanism brings the quality of the complex movement to an approximately normal level. Training with auditory reafferences (Experiment 4) shows that hurdling performance (running time and movement quality) increases both through the use of faster and slower than real time movement sounds. The results of this project therefore represent an extension of theoretical and practical knowledge.

  

Publications
Kennel, C., Hohmann, T., & Raab, M. (2014). Action perception via auditory information: Agent identification and discrimination with complex movement sounds. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 26, 157-165.

Kennel, C., Pizzera, A., Hohmann, T., Schubotz, R. I., Murgia, M., Agostini, T., & Raab, M. (2014). The perception of natural and modulated movement sounds. Perception, 43, 796-804.

 Kennel, C., Streese, L., Pizzera, A., Justen, C., Hohmann, T., & Raab, M. (2015). Auditory reafferences: The influence of real-time feedback on movement control. Frontiers in Psychology 6, 69.