Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

David Sherwood

Second Advisor

Mark Opp

Third Advisor

Alice Healy

Abstract

Many research studies have shown the advantages of an external focus of attention (FOA) on motor performance and the benefits of learning with an external FOA. For example, research such as Lohse, Sherwood, and Healy (2010)have found that an external FOA, such as on the flight of a dart, led to better performance and reduced errors compared to an internal FOA. Other findings include decreased preparation time and reduced agonist muscle EMG activity compared to an internal FOA (Lohse et al. 2010). A study by Hitchcock and Sherwood (in press) found that there was less muscular co-contraction and increased wrist acceleration with an external focus. The present study aims to investigate the effect of the FOA on the quality of movement and accuracy. This study used a combination of electromyography (EMG), x, y, z accelerometer, and a hand dynamometer to measure muscle activity, wrist movement, and force production respectively. Subjects focused either externally or internally on dart throwing or the force production task, while throwing darts and producing force in all conditions. In both task conditions, throwing accuracy was better with an external FOA. Mean force production was greater in the force task. There was greater maximum Y acceleration in the positive acceleration phase with an external FOA. In the negative acceleration phase, the darts task and the internal focus conditions had greater maximum and minimum X and Z acceleration. These data suggest better performance with an external FOA while focusing on either dart throwing or force production.

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