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SEHS Topic 5.2 – Skill in Sport: Information Processing. Human Central Nervous System. Describe a simple model of information processing. Input -> Decision Making -> Output We take info from our surroundings, use it to make a decision and then produce a response

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SEHS Topic 5.2 – Skill in Sport: Information Processing

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SEHS Topic 5.2 – Skill in Sport: Information Processing

Human Central Nervous System

Describe a simple model of information processing

  • Input -> Decision Making -> Output

  • We take info from our surroundings, use it to make a decision and then produce a response

  • Input -> Decision Making -> Output

Describe Welford’s model of information processing

Welford's model suggests that we:

  • take in information through our senses and temporarily store all of these inputs prior to sorting them out

  • the inputs that are seen as relevant to the decision are then stored in the short-term memory

  • a decision is made by comparing the information in the short-term memory with previous experiences stored in the long-term memory

  • with reference to the long term memory for the required action the decision is carried out

  • the action and the results are stored for future reference

  • the whole process then begins again


Outline the components associated with sensory input

  • Structures in your body that are involved with sensory input include:

  • Proprioreceptors – Proprioception means "sense of self". In the limbs, the proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and muscle tension, which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space. 


  • Interoceptors - Interoceptors or visceroceptors provide information about the events in the viscera, e.g., receptors sensing blood pressure, plasma osmolarity, blood glucose concentration or the degree of stretching of the urinary bladder.


  • Exteroceptors provide information about the external environment. Ex. touch, pressure, temperature, light, sound, taste, smell etc.

Old School Exteroreceptors lab

  • Smell

  • Taste

  • Touch (2 ptthreshhold)

  • Sight (peripheral; blind spot)

Explain the signal-detection process

  • Sometimes referred to as the detection-comparison-recognition process (DCR)

  • See excerpt from Dr. Heeger’s lecture on the subject

  • I begin here with medical scenario. Imagine that a radiologist is examining a CT scan, looking for evidence of a tumor. Interpreting CT images is hard and it takes a lot of training. Because the task is so hard, there is always some uncertainty as to what is there or not. Either there is a tumor (signal present) or there is not (signal absent). Either the doctor sees a tumor (they respond "yes'') or does not (they respond "no''). There are four possible outcomes: hit (tumor present and doctor says "yes''), miss (tumor present and doctor says "no''), false alarm (tumor absent and doctor says "yes"), and correct rejection (tumor absent and doctor says "no"). Hits and correct rejections are good. False alarms and misses are bad.

  • There are two main components to the decision-making process: information acquisition and criterion.

  • Information acquisition: First, there is information in the CT scan. For example, healthy lungs have a characteristic shape. The presence of a tumor might distort that shape. Tumors may have different image characteristics: brighter or darker, different texture, etc. With proper training a doctor learns what kinds of things to look for, so with more practice/training they will be able to acquire more (and more reliable) information. Running another test (e.g., MRI) can also be used to acquire more information. Regardless, acquiring more information is good. The effect of information is to increase the likelihood of getting either a hit or a correct rejection, while reducing the likelihood of an outcome in the two error boxes.

  • Criterion: The second component of the decision process is quite different. For, in addition to relying on technology/testing to provide information, the medical profession allows doctors to use their own judgment. Different doctors may feel that the different types of errors are not equal. For example, some doctors may feel that missing an opportunity for early diagnosis may mean the difference between life and death. A false alarm, on the other hand, may result only in a routine biopsy operation. They may choose to err toward "yes" (tumor present) decisions. Other doctors, however, may feel that unnecessary surgeries (even routine ones) are very bad (expensive, stress, etc.). They may chose to be more conservative and say "no" (no turmor) more often. They will miss more tumors, but they will be doing their part to reduce unnecessary surgeries. And they may feel that a tumor, if there really is one, will be picked up at the next check-up. These arguments are not about information. Two doctors, with equally good training, looking at the same CT scan, will have the same information. But they may have a different bias/criterion.

  • Internal Response and Internal Noise

  • Detecting a tumor is hard and there will always be some amount of uncertainty. There are two kinds of noise factors that contribute to the uncertainty: internal noise and external noise.

  • External noise: There are many possible sources of external noise. There can be noise factors that are part of the photographic process, a smudge, or a bad spot on the film. Or something in the person's lung that is fine but just looks a bit like a tumor. All of these are to be examples of external noise. While the doctor makes every effort possible to reduce the external noise, there is little or nothing that they can do to reduce internal noise.

Internal noise: Internal noise refers to the fact that neural responses are noisy. To make this example really concrete, let's suppose that our doctor has a set of tumor detector neurons and that they monitor the response of one of these neurons to determine the likelihood that there is a tumor in the image (if we could find these neurons then perhaps we could publish and article entitled ``What the radiologist's eye tells the radiologist's brain''). These hypothetical tumor detectors will give noisy and variable responses. After one glance at a scan of a healthy lung, our hypothetical tumor detectors might fire 10 spikes per second. After a different glance at the same scan and under the same conditions, these neurons might fire 40 spikes per second.

  • Internal response: Now I do not really believe that there are tumor detector neurons in a radiologist's brain. But there is some internal state, reflected by neural activity somewhere in the brain, that determines the doctor's impression about whether or not a tumor is present. This is a fundamental issue; the state of your mind is reflected by neural activity somewhere in your brain. This neural activity might be concentrated in just a few neurons or it might be distributed across a large number of neurons. Since we do not know much about where/when this neural activity is, let's simply refer to it as the doctor's internal response.

  • This internal response is inherently noisy. Even when there is no tumor present (no-signal trials) there will be some internal response (sometimes more, sometimes less) in the doctor's sensory system.

Use the space below to describe how Dr. Heeger’s lecture excerpt relates to SEHS

Distinguish between the characteristics of short-term sensory store, short-term memory, and long-term memory

  • Differ in:

    • Functionality

    • Capacity

    • Content

    • Strength

Sensory Information Storage (SIS)

  • Tenths of a second

  • Visual Trace: 0.25 seconds

  • Movies 16 fps = continuous

  • Not possible to extend

  • Complete image

Short-term Memory (STR)

  • Seconds to minutes

  • Only interpretation is retained

  • Limited capacity

    • 5-6 items

  • Direct access

  • Permanent storage vs. rehearsal

Long-term Memory (LTR)

  • No storage limitation

  • Need process and retrieval

  • Key issues

    • Memory organization

    • Methods of storing and retrieving (will cover in additional slides)

Memory Retrieval

  • Interconnected network

  • Retrievability

  • Frequent thoughts strengthen neural pathways

Discuss the relationship between selective attention and memory

  • Can’t pay attention to everything, be it in sport or in aspect of life

  • Single-channel theory / “Cocktail party effect”

  • What do we pay attention to? How do we overcome this?

  • Selective attention – focus on relevant in a sea of irrelevance

Broadbent’s filter model of selective attention

Compare different methods of memory improvement

  • According to Miller we have a capacity of 7+/-2 bits of information. How do we remember more?

  • Emotion

  • Chunking (example)

  • Visualization (ex. Memory Pegboard – the more outlandish the better)


  • Internet research: Outline how 2 of the following can be used to help with retention and/or retrieval for improving learning, skill acquisition practice or teaching/coaching skills.

  • 1. using key words

  • 2. brevity

  • 3. clarity

  • 4. organization

  • 5. Association

  • 6. practice

Define Response Time……

  • Response time- is the time from the introduction of a stimulus to the completion of the action required to deal with the situation(McMorris 2004)

  • Response time = reaction time + movement time

    • Where reaction time is the time that elapses from the sudden onset of a stimulus to the beginning of an overt response and

    • Movement time is the time it takes to carry out the motor aspects of the performance

….and outline the factors that determine response time, including ……..

  • Movement time is effected by fitness (specifically speed and power of limb movement) and can be improved with training

  • Response time - > increased throughout childhood and adolescence….but get slower as we age and is not easy to improve:

    • Stimulus transmissionDetection

    • RecognitionDecision to respond

    • Nerve transmission time

Hick‘s Law

  • Hick (1952) found that as you double the number of stimulus-response couplings there is a linear increase in response time

Psychological refractory period

  • What is PRP (psychological refractory period)? How does it helps explain deception in sports?

  • Top 10 deception plays


  • So what’s going on here?

Describe a motor programme (mp)

  • Is defined as a set of movements (muscle commands) stored as a whole in the memory regardless of whether feedback is used in their execution

  • Exs. include just about any skill you can think of

  • When a specific action is required, the memory process retrieves the stored programme and transmits the motor commands via nerve impulses to the relevant muscles allowing movement to occur. This is known as ‘executive motor programme.

  • When needed this programme is recalled. If this skill is learned then the reaction time to produce the skill is very short.

  • When the performer becomes more skilled then the motor programme is taken away and superseded by a new programme. Then this new one will become learned.

Subroutine Programmes

  • When a specific action is required, the memory process retrieves the stored programme and transmits the motor commands via nerve impulses to the relevant muscles allowing movement to occur. This is known as ‘executive motor programme.

  • When needed this programme is recalled. If this skill is learned then the reaction time to produce the skill is very short.

  • When the performer becomes more skilled then the motor programme is taken away and supersede by a new programme. Then this new one will become learned.

Compare motor programmes from both open and closed loop perspectives

  • Open loops – hitting (or attempting to hit) a 100mph fastball or a 140mph tennis serve

  • (no alteration of movement possible – since the stimuli is too fast for feedback/adjustments to occur)

  • Closed loops – not all movements take place so quickly – many can be altered during their execution

  • (slower pitch reaction, slower serves, deflected or redirected balls)

How we alter Mps using a closed loop

  • Jack Adams (1971)

  • A learned skill = a perceptual trace(pt; a memory imprint for a “feel” of the successful movements) in its wake

  • We use this perceptual trace/ this “feel” to compare with the ongoing movement

  • This comparison allows us to adjust and correct any inappropriate actions

  • While the ptallows for corrections, Adams argues that the actual selection and initiation of movement is a result of something he called memory trace (mt)

Outline the role of feedback in information processing models

  • Feedback – in this context it describes information resulting from an action or response

    • Intrinsic feedback – available to a performer/athlete w/o outside help

    • Extrinsic feedback – is provided by someone (coach/teacher) or something else (stopwatch, game clock, tape measure)

Feedback and information processing models continued

  • Know the difference between:

    • Knowledge of results (KR) vs. Knowledge of Performance (KP)

    • -Most obvious form of KR is visual (self recoginized or w/assistance)


  • The most obvious form of KP is the “feel” of the movement (i.e recognition of the sensory consequences)

    • It can be concurrent


    • Terminal feedback via a coach or video review

      **Feedback can also be positive or negative

Outline the role of feedback with the learning process

Considerations for giving feedback on skill performance

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