October 24, 2020

Multifractality in postural sway supports quiet eye training in aiming tasks: A study of golf putting

The ‘quiet eye’ (QE) approach to visually-guided aiming behavior invests fully in perceptual information’s potential to organize coordinated action. Sports psychologists refer to QE as the stillness of the eyes during aiming tasks and increasingly into self- and externally-paced tasks. Amidst the ‘noisy’ fluctuations of the athlete’s body, quiet eyes might leave fewer saccadic interruptions to the coupling between postural sway and optic flow. Multifractality in postural sway is a robust predictor of both visual and haptic perceptual responses. Postural sway generates optic flow centered on an individual’s eye height. So, we manipulated the eye height part way through a golf-putting task for participants trained in QE or trained technically as per conventional golf putting. We predicted that perturbing the eye height by attaching wooden blocks below the feet would perturb the putting more so in QE-trained participants than in those trained technically. We also predicted that responses to this perturbation would depend on multifractality in postural sway. Specifically, we predicted that less multifractality would predict more adaptive responses to the perturbation and higher putting accuracy. Results supported both predictions. QE training and lower multifractality led to more frequent successful putts, and the perturbation of eye height led to less frequent successful putts, particularly for QE-trained participants. Models of radial error (i.e., the distance between the ball’s final position and the hole) indicated that lower estimates of multifractality due to nonlinearity coincided with a more adaptive response to the perturbation. These results challenge the past suggestions that reduced multifractality might be a signature of diseased posture. Instead, they suggest that reduced multifractality may act in a context-sensitive manner to restrain motoric degrees of freedom to achieve the task goal.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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