Expert–novice differences in brain function of field hockey players
The aims of this study were to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the neural bases for perceptual-cognitive superiority in a hockey anticipation task. Thirty participants (15 hockey players, 15 non-hockey players) lay in an MRI scanner while performing a video-based task in which they predicted the direction of an oncoming shot in either a hockey or a badminton scenario. Video clips were temporally occluded either 160 ms before the shot was made or 60 ms after the ball/shuttle left the stick/racquet. Behavioral data showed a significant hockey expertise × video-type interaction in which hockey experts were superior to novices with hockey clips but there were no significant differences with badminton clips. The imaging data on the other hand showed a significant main effect of hockey expertise and of video type (hockey vs. badminton), but the expertise × video-type interaction did not survive either a whole-brain or a small-volume correction for multiple comparisons. Further analysis of the expertise main effect revealed that when watching hockey clips, experts showed greater activation in the rostral inferior parietal lobule, which has been associated with an action observation network, and greater activation than novices in Brodmann areas 17 and 18 and middle frontal gyrus when watching badminton videos. The results provide partial support both for domain-specific and domain-general expertise effects in an action anticipation task.
Sowden, P T