PodEpisodes

7A – Is Listening to Heavy Metal Music Bad For You?

7A
News: Is listening to heavy metal music bad for you?
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Articles:
Three Decades Later: The Life Experiences and Mid-Life Functioning of 1980s Heavy Metal Groupies, Musicians, and Fans

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
Insane Ride – Sound of Rock n Roll
Jose O Salvador – For Those About to Rock
Behold the Living Corpse – Death March
Without God – Space Weed
Wizardry – Keeper of Doom
Vincebus Eruptum – Hand of Doomish
Metamophosis – Ballada Bezbozna
Tombs – Seven Stars of The Angel of Death
Hellcore – Sakit Jiwa Terinfeksi
Subterrestrial – We Live Inside
The Old Submarine – Flawless
Utopian Condition – Human Despair
Singularity – Screaming at the Sun
Hound – Sleeping Hound
Silent Sorrow – The Sorrow Embrace
Zoliborz – To Balagopalan Ganapathy
via freemusicarchive.org and jamendo.com

7 – What Should an Athlete Pay Attention To?

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What should an athlete focus their attention on when performing their sport? Should you pay attention to how your body is moving, the crowd, your opponents, what you need to buy at the store after the game, or something else? Is it the same if you just learning the sport? In this episode I focus my attention of focusing attention.
What Grinds My Gears: Does sports science get enough respect? Internal/external focus debate
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Key Points:
• There are different dichotomies and methodologies researchers have used when studying attention in sports
• One dichotomy is skill-focused attention vs environmentally focused attention.
• When you are skill-focused your attention is directed to anything to do with the execution of your movements. This includes both the movements of your body and the movements of any equipment you are using (for example the racquet a tennis player is holding on the board a surfer is standing on).
• When you are environmentally-focused your attention is directed to anything other than the execution of your movements. These things can be either task-relevant (that is, things that can be used to help your performance) or task-irrelevant (that is, things have no use for performance).
• Another dichotomy is an internal vs external focus of attention
• An internal focus of attention is the same as skill-focus attention except for one important difference. It does not include attention to the equipment an athlete is using, it only refers to their own body. So focusing on your hands during putting is an internal focus while focusing on the movement of the club head is not. An external focus of attention includes anything outside the body such as equipment, the movement of the ball leaving the bat, etc. so an external focus of attention is almost the same as an environmental focus.
• Most researchers studying internal vs external have used instructional methods (i.e. the athlete is instructed what to attend to) while researchers studying skill vs environmental focus have typically used secondary task (i.e., having an athlete perform an additional task like listening for a sound while they are performing their sport)
• Research from the skill/environmental camp has provided evidence from several studies that what you should focus your attention on depends on your skill level. Novices perform better with a skill-focus while experts perform better with an environmental focus. These findings are consistent with the dominant theory of skill acquisition
• Researchers from the internal/external camp have provided a very large body of evidence which suggests that an external focus of attention results in better performance and learning i.e., there is no skill level difference in what you should focus on
• Both camps area that an internal focus is bad for highly skilled performers most likely because it causing a break down in automaticity
• When you are highly skilled, focusing your attention on the outcome of your movement (e.g., the direction the ball is travelling when it leaves your bat) is the optimal strategy

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
The Cute Leepers – All this Attention is Killing Me
Conny Olivetti – Attention Span Zero
Fallen to Flux – Outside, Looking In
Reigning Sound – Straight Shooter
via freemusicarchive.org and jamendo.com

6A – Motion Sickness, Anticipation Neurons

6A
News: Are brain areas that produce movement involved in anticipating it? How can we reduce motion sickness?
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Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Bad News
Jonathan Coulton – Re: Your Brains
via freemusicarchive.org

6 – Embodied Perception in Sport

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Why do great athletes claim that on some nights baseballs look as big as a grapefruit, basketball hoops are like oceans and things move in slow motion? Are they just blowing a lot of hot air or is this really the way they see the world? In this episode, I explore embodied perception in sport…the idea that the way we see the world changes as a function of our action capabilities (e.g., whether we are an expert or novice, whether we are fresh or fatigued, etc). I also consider how we might take advantage of these effects in sports training programs.
What Grinds My Gears: Publishing Pet Peeves
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Key Points
• Embodied perception theory (Proffitt) proposed that the perceptual image information created by objects in the environment is scaled by the performer’s ability to act on them. So, for example, the perceived steepness of a hill facing a cyclist is determined both by the angle of the surface projected on the retina and by the cyclists level of fatigue, while the perceived size of a golf hole is related to both its retinal image size and the precision with which the performer can putt the ball.
• On the surface, this idea is consistent with the anecdotes from athletes that ball’s look bigger and things moving in slow motion when they are playing well
• Researchers have found 3 different types of effects consistent with embodied in perception in sport: changes in perception due to skill level (e.g., more skilled athletes perceive a golf hole to be bigger), changes in perception due to task demands (e.g., a golf hole is perceived to be smaller when putting from a larger distance) and changes in perception related to the athletes goals (e.g., pitches that appropriate for a batter’s goal are perceived to be bigger.
• Alternative explanations have been put forth to explain the effects including response biases, memory distortions and attentional accentuation
• There is some evidence that re-creating embodied perceptual effects (e.g., making certain the ball smaller for certain pitches) can be used for training

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
JoosTVD – Bigger Things
The Jacobins – Slow Motion
Leather Uppers – Bigger Than a Breadbox
Ergo Phizmiz – Pressures from Golf
Reigning Sound – Straight Shooter
via freemusicarchive.org

5A – Choking in Golf, Return Trips

5A
News: Can the threat of losing $50K on one putt make a pro golfer choke? Why is “back again” shorter than there?
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Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – Bad News
via freemusicarchive.org

5 –Vision in Hitting and Catching

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How does an athlete get their glove, racquet, hand, or foot to the right place at the right time to hit, catch or strike a moving object? In this episode, I explore visual information that can be used to judge the time to contact and direction of motion of an approaching object and how it can be applied to the outfielder problem.
Research Confessions: The time I nearly published completely artifactual results
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Key points:
• In order to intercept an object that is moving towards us (like a tennis serve, baseball pitch or penalty kick) we need to know two things: when it will arrive at our body and where it will be when it gets there (for example, to the left or right).
• For an object approaching at a constant speed, time to contact is equal to the current image size of the object divided by the rate at which the image size is increasing. In other words, you don’t need to know its distance or approach speed.
• This cue, which is now commonly referred to as tau, seems to be used to control a lot of actions in sports (e.g., timing the takeoff in a long jump, or timing a spike in volleyball).
• As would be predicted, if you alter an object’s size as it approaches (e.g., letting the air out of a balloon) the perceived time to contact changes
• There are also other visual cues for judging time to contact. For example, the change in the disparity between the image of the object in our two eyes. Binocular cues become more critical when the approaching object is small and/or is very close to you
• For low objects approaching you, there are a few different visual cues one can use to judge where the object is headed. One is the difference in image velocity of the object in your two eyes. For example, If the motion of the retinal images is in the same direction in the two eyes, the approaching object will miss your head, to the side opposite the direction of motion
Predictive control involves is using visual information early in the ball’s flight (like the cues we have talked about so far) to judge where it is going and when it will get there to make a prediction about where the ball will be in the future
Prospective control involves linking (or coupling) one’s movement to some visual cue. In this type of control, no prediction is involved, instead if the coupling is maintained interception will automatically occur.
• For catching a ball that is hit high in the air, commonly called “the outfielder problem”, fielders seem to use prospective control with the specific information used (e.g., acceleration, bearing angle, etc) still hotly debated
• There is a very small about of evidence that training can improve the ability to use cues about where and when

Articles:

IOVD Figure

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
Between the Eyes – Christian Milone
Catch Me, I’m Falling – Oblivion’s Garden
Farmertan – Ugly Truth
via freemusicarchive.org

4 – Anticipation in Sports

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How do great athletes seem to know what is going to happen next? What information to they use to predict the next serve will be cross court instead of down the line, how does a baseball batter know the next pitch will be a fastball, and how does an NFL quarterback know the defense will blitz? Can these abilities be improved through training? In this episode I explore the topic of anticipation in sports.
What Grinds My Gears: Conference false advertising and fishing in movement science experiments
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Key points
• This ability to anticipate what is going to happen before your opponent starts moving is crucial in a lot of sports (e.g., tennis, baseball and cricket) because the time the athlete has to judge what is going on after the action starts can be so short…in some cases, like hitting a cricket ball or baseball, the time the athlete has to view the ball in flight (about 0.5 sec) is much less than the time it takes to actually generate and execute a swing (about ¾ of a second).
• There are two basic things an athlete can use to anticipate what their opponent will do: advance cues and situational probabilities.
• The term Advance Cue is used to refer to any aspect of the behaviour of an opponent (in particular their body language or body movements, what which call kinematics) that can be used to anticipate their action.
• The use of advance cues has been studied extensively using the occlusion method developed by Bruce Abernethy from the University of Queensland. This method involves showing an athlete an unfolding action (a tennis serve for example). You then occlude (or block from view) what is going on in some way.
• Using this method, it has been shown that skilled athletes are consistently better at using advance cues as compared to lesser skilled athletes, for example they can accurately judge where a serve is going with a shorter view of the scene. Novice athletes rely on later-occurring information (often after the ball is struck or released) to make judgements about trajectory.
• Training research has demonstrated that practicing the occlusion method can improve anticipation ability and this seems to transfer to improved sports performance
• The term Situational Probabilities refers to the fact that the probability of different events in sports varies as function of the game situation. E.g., baseball pitchers tend to throw a fastball when behind in the count
• There have been very few studies which have evaluated whether players can use situational probabilities, whether experts can do this better than less skilled players, and whether the ability to use these can be improved through training
• The research that has been done suggests that appears that skilled athletes can and do use situational probabilities but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to understand exactly how.
• More research is needed to understand how advance cues and situational probabilities are combined

Temporal occlusion video

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
The Body Breaks – Devendra Banhart
I Can See the Future – Eleni Mandell
I Can See the Future – Lo Fi Is Sci Fi
Reigning Sound – Straight Shooter
via freemusicarchive.org

3 – Eye Movements in Sports

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What should an athlete look at when performing their sport? For example, should a soccer goalkeeper keep their eye on the shooter’s leg when trying to stop a penalty kick or on their upper body? Should a golfer look at the ball or the hole when putting? Do expert athletes look at different things than novices? Is it really possible to always keep your eye on the ball? In this episode, I examine the role of eye movements in sports.
Research Confessions: My first batting simulator experiment and the importance of keeping conditions in an experiment the same
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Key points
• Only the small area right in the center of where you are looking is seen in clear, high resolution. The rest of the scene, in our peripheral vision, is blurry, low resolution. Therefore, we need to move our eyes around a lot!
• The way in which we move from fixation to fixation depends on what we are doing and is called our visual search strategy.
• Several studies have shown differences between the visual search strategies of expert and novices athletes. For example, in 2002 Savelsbergh and colleagues found that expert soccer goalkeepers employed a more efficient search strategy involving fewer fixations of longer duration to a very small number of locations on the shooter’s body while novices look all over.
• The general finding we see across a lot of sports is that experts fixate their eyes on a smaller number of key areas for a longer duration, while novices frantically move their eyes almost everywhere.
• In some cases, it seems like the purpose of fixating on a location is not to use central vision but rather to anchor the eyes so that the important peripheral cues can be seen
• Just before they begin moving, skilled athletes seem to lock their eyes on one thing in their environment (for example the ball when putting, or the hoop in basketball) and keep it there. The lack of movement of the eyes during this period is reflected in the it’s name (the Quiet Eye period) coined by Joan Vickers. This effect has been demonstrated in sports including ice hockey, archery, shooting, billiards and tennis.
• It has been proposed that a long fixation on the target is required to organize and plan the movement parameters.
• Early research on following a moving object (like a pitched baseball) with your eyes is impossible to do for its entire flight because object moves faster than we can move our eyes.
• Instead, in many cases, elite athletes seem to follow the ball for a while then make a quick jump of their eyes (called a saccade) to where they predict it will be
• More recently it has been shown that truly elite batters coupled the rotation of their head to the movement of the ball, ensuring the ball remained in a consistent direction relative to their head
• Research has shown that training people to have a longer QE period can result in improvements in skilled performance
• Effective control of eye movements (which is an aspect of visual software) does seem to be a crucial factor in sports with research convincingly demonstrating it as a factor that distinguishes athletes of different abilities and can be training to improve sports performance.
• A crucial feature of this research is that the athletes are usually studied in context, that using stimuli they encounter in their sport rather than eye charts or flashing lights

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
Still Pluto – Open Up Your Eyes
Two Prong – Search Your Eyes
The Rusty Bells – Drop Your Eyes
Justin Townes Earle – Mama’s Eyes
Farmertan – Ugly Truth
via freemusicarchive.org

2 – Vision Training Programs

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Since the early 1980’s, there have been several vision training programs developed which propose to improve the vision of athletes resulting in an associated improvement in their sports performance. Do these training programs actually work? Or could practice time be put to better use? In this episode, I review the research that has evaluated the effectiveness of these programs.
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Key points:
• The first commercial vision training programs in sport appeared in the early 80’s and were made up of tests taken from clinical optometry e.g., “Sport Vision” and “Eyerobics”
• What is being assumed here is that an exercise designed to get people with subnormal vision up to the normal level can also be used to get a person from a normal level to a super-normal level.
• Dynavision is an apparatus designed to train eye-hand coordination and peripheral reaction time. It is a 5 foot x 4 foot board on which are mounted 64 red buttons that can be illuminated and turned off by touch
• One of the most recent entries into the vision training programme market is stroboscopic training in the form of the Nike Vapor strobe glasses. In stroboscopic training the athlete tries to perform actions while wearing glasses that open and close so that there are short periods where they can’t see
• To support the claims made by these training programs we actually need to demonstrate 3 different things:
o First, we need to show that the visual abilities that are being trained (whether its acuity or peripheral vision) improve after training in people with already normal vision or above normal vision.
o Second, we need to show that sports performance is improved in some way after the training is done.
o Third, and most importantly, we need to demonstrate transfer of training. In other words, we need to show that the reason people got better at sports by the end of the vision training program was because their vision got better (and not due to some other confounding reason). This will require one or more control conditions.
• In a study published in 2012 by Clark and colleagues the University of Cincinnati baseball team completed vision training during the offseason between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The training involved using the dynavision device, strobe training and some aspects of the Sports Vision program. The team improved their batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage, however, because there was no control group a placebo effect cannot be ruled out
• The best study on this topic was conducted by Bruce Abernethy and Joanne Wood in 2002. 40 novice tennis players were assigned to one of 4 groups: the Sport Vision training program, Eyerobics training group or one of two control groups: a reading control (that did physical practice and read a tennis instruction manual and a control group that just did physical practice. Some of the visual capabilities improved but there was no difference between the groups. Most importantly, there was no difference in the tennis performance for the different groups.
• In 2014, Deveau and colleagues used a vision training programmed based on research in perceptual learning. The subjects in this training study (19 players on the Univ Calif Riverside baseball team) did show improvements in both visual ability (on average the trained players improved from 20/13 to 20/10) and batting performance (strike outs decreased from 22 to 17%) but again since there was no control group a placebo effect can again not be ruled out.
• In a series of studies, Stephen Mitroff and colleagues at Duke University have shown that stroboscopic training can improve a variety of perceptual skills including motion perception. And they also showed some very preliminary evidence (with no control group) that it results in improved ice hockey performance.
• In sum, while vision training program might be good for addressing visual deficiencies and make your vision a bit better, if you have normal vision already, there is no convincing, published evidence yet that this will make you a better athlete.
• We need more well-designed transfer of training studies that meet the 3 criteria described above!

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
via freemusicarchive.org

1 – Vision in Sports

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Sports talk is littered with phrases related to our eyes. We talk of great court vision, a good eye at the plate and seeing the ball well. But just how critical is vision to an athlete?Do professional athletes see better than we do? Can you play sports effectively if you have poorer than 20/20 vision? In this episode I dive into the topic of research in vision in sports.
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Key points:
• Visual perception is comprised of several different functions (e.g., acuity, motion perception, color vision and depth perception) that operate largely independently and in parallel. So it is possible for a person to have good depth perception but be color blind for example.
• First study on vision in sports in 1921 when Hugh Fullerton ran tests on Babe Ruth.
• Ruth’s reaction time was 12% faster than an average person and when words were flashed briefly he could read 6 letters correctly where the average performance is 4.5 letters
• In 2006, this study was replicated on Albert Pujhols, then one of the best hitters in baseball, by researchers at Washington University and found similar findings i.e., slightly above average performance
• The aspect of vision that has been measured most often in this area is static visual acuity. Do elite athletes have better than 20/20 vision. In some cases, yes. But not always…for example, 15% of NFL players,20% of NBA players & 13% of Olympic athletes were found to have worse visual acuity than the general population.
• A more promising visual characteristic that has been linked to sport is dynamic visual acuity..the ability to see final details for an object that is moving (i.e., the orientation of laces on a pitched ball).
• Studies which have shown that DVA is higher in experienced athletes in sports including table tennis, water polo, baseball and motorsports.
• Sanderson & Whiting (1978) showed that the effect of target speed on DVA was related to catching ability
• Research on peripheral vision has not shown consistent differences between athletes of different skill levels. For example, Berg and Killian (1995), softball players had a wider field of view than non baseball players but there was no relationship between batting average and size of FOV. A similar lack of relationship was found in a recent 2015 study in the Journal of Sports Sciences by Poltavski & Beiberdorf where there was no relationship between a peripheral vision test and goals scored in ice hockey.
• There has been no reliable relationship between eye dominance and sporting ability found in research
• Research blurring lenses has shown that you need to make people almost legally blind before you see any effect on sports performance. For example, in a study on cricket batting by David Mann and colleagues in 2007 it was found that visual acuity needed to be reduced to 20/200 before any affects on batting were found.
•So, by in large, research has not supported the idea that great athletes “see better”

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action