Athlete-Specific Neural Strategies under Pressure


Athlete-Specific Neural Strategies under Pressure: A fNIRS Pilot Study.

(1) Background: Stress and pressure during competition and training impair athletes’ performance in sports. However, the influence of mental stress on the prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning in an athlete during the visual simulation task is unknown. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate hemodynamic responses during the visual-simulation task that induces pressure and stress using functional near-infrared spectroscopy. (2) Methods: Ten archers and ten non-athlete collegiate students performed a visual-simulation task. Participants’ current stress levels were collected using a visual analog scale before and after the task. Average oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO), deoxygenated hemoglobin (HbR), and total hemoglobin (HbT) levels and their variability (standard deviation (SD) HbO, SD HbR, and SD HbT) were computed to compare the neural efficiency between athlete and non-athlete. (3) Results: In general, both groups exhibited increased stress levels after the simulation task, and there was no group difference in overall average hemodynamic response from PFC and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). While the average hemodynamic response level did not differ between groups, variability in hemodynamic responses from the archer group showed a more stable pattern than the non-athlete group. (4) Conclusion: Under this experimental setting, decreasing the variability in hemodynamic responses during the visual simulation, potentially via stabilizing the fluctuation of PFC, was characterized by the stress-related compensatory neural strategy of elite archers.

PMID: 33207576 [PubMed – in process]

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 16;17(22):

Authors: Park I, Kim Y, Kim SK




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