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Differences of attentional networks function in athletes from open-skill sports

an functional near-infrared spectroscopy study

Yu, Miaoa; Liu, Yi Binga; Yang, Guangb

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001327
Clinical Neuroscience

Objective The purpose of this study was to investigate the attentional networks function characteristics of interceptive and strategic sports athletes from open-skill sports.

Methods We used a revised lateralized attention network task to measure attentional networks efficiency and activation related to flanker conflict effects, alerting effects, and orienting effects changes on the right frontoparietal network using functional near-infrared spectroscopy in 20 strategic sports athletes, 20 interceptive sports athletes, and 22 college students.

Results The interceptive sports athletes had the fastest overall reaction time. Strategic sports athletes had the highest accuracy and smallest flanker conflict effect on accuracy. Compared with non-athletes, strategic sports athletes had a higher alerting effect, validity effect, and disengaging effect on reaction time; the disengaging effect was particularly higher than that in the interceptive sports athletes. This was accompanied by higher activity in the right frontoparietal network.

Conclusions The open-skill athletes demonstrate significantly more efficient attentional function compared to non-athletes. Athletes from interceptive sports demonstrated increased speed when solving conflict, while those from strategic sports demonstrated higher accuracy. In addition, top-down control appears to play an important role in strategic sports athletes making a cautious decision. This can be attributed to the right frontoparietal network.

aSport Science College, Jilin Sport University

bSchool of Physical Education, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, China

Received 2 June 2019 Accepted 17 July 2019

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Correspondence to Yi Bing. Liu, PhD, Sport Science College, Jilin Sport University, 5699 Linhe Street, Changchun City, Jilin Province, China, Tel: +86 0431 84694075; fax:+86 0431 84694075; e-mail:

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