Attentional focus and balance control using electroencephalography

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sydney E. Rossback (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Louisa Raisbeck

Abstract: Attentional focus is the direction of attention during a specific task which can be divided into an external focus of attention (EFA) and an internal focus of attention (IFA). An external focus has been found to be more effective in motor learning and control. Predominately used in sports environments, especially running and gymnastics, it has recently become more utilized in rehabilitation environments. A primary concern with aging is the maintenance of balance, research has consistently shown that balance begins to deteriorate faster after age 65, which in turn leads to injuries and reduced quality of life. Using attentional focus as a strategy that both therapists and individuals can use assists with furthering the study of movement behavior with respect to enhancing and maintaining quality of life. The purpose of this study was to further examine the influence of attentional focus (EFA and IFA) and its underlying mechanisms in the brain using electroencephalography (EEG) during a balance task. Individuals who are healthy and without neurological impairment were recruited (n=32). A between-subjects design was used to examine potential cortical activation differences between IFA and EFA using the standardized BESS balance protocol. The BESS protocol consists of six tasks all with eyes closed on a firm surface and on a foam surface. Cortical activity measured in the Alpha and Beta bands was examined in effort to investigate differences during attentional focus conditions. This study found postural sway to be reduced in the IFA condition. This study also saw a reduction in cognitive effort in the EFA group. In the frontal region, EFA had decreased alpha, and increased beta power. In the medial region, it was found that there was a broad decrease in mean alpha, as the balance performance decreased. While the beta power broadly increased as balance performance improved. This demonstrates the potential for cortical processing differences when focus is manipulated during a balance task.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Attentional Focus, Electroencephalography, External Focus of Attention, Instructional Cues, Internal Focus of Attention

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