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Concept: Skills


In many sports, it is common for top coaching positions to be held by former players; however, despite the natural progression in many sports for skilled players to become high level coaches, we have little understanding of how playing may develop useful skills for coaching. In this study we considered perceptual-cognitive skill across groups of high and low-skilled soccer players and soccer coaches. A range of perceptual-cognitive variables was measured in an attempt to capture the diverse skills related to expertise in sport and coaching. Generally, results highlighted similarities between coaches and players on some tasks and differences on others.

Concepts: Learning, Leadership, Skills


Skilled performers such as athletes or musicians can improve their performance by imagining the actions or sensory outcomes associated with their skill. Performers vary widely in their auditory and motor imagery abilities, and these individual differences influence sensorimotor learning. It is unknown whether imagery abilities influence both memory encoding and retrieval. We examined how auditory and motor imagery abilities influence musicians' encoding (during Learning, as they practiced novel melodies), and retrieval (during Recall of those melodies). Pianists learned melodies by listening without performing (auditory learning) or performing without sound (motor learning); following Learning, pianists performed the melodies from memory with auditory feedback (Recall). During either Learning (Experiment 1) or Recall (Experiment 2), pianists experienced either auditory interference, motor interference, or no interference. Pitch accuracy (percentage of correct pitches produced) and temporal regularity (variability of quarter-note interonset intervals) were measured at Recall. Independent tests measured auditory and motor imagery skills. Pianists' pitch accuracy was higher following auditory learning than following motor learning and lower in motor interference conditions (Experiments 1 and 2). Both auditory and motor imagery skills improved pitch accuracy overall. Auditory imagery skills modulated pitch accuracy encoding (Experiment 1): Higher auditory imagery skill corresponded to higher pitch accuracy following auditory learning with auditory or motor interference, and following motor learning with motor or no interference. These findings suggest that auditory imagery abilities decrease vulnerability to interference and compensate for missing auditory feedback at encoding. Auditory imagery skills also influenced temporal regularity at retrieval (Experiment 2): Higher auditory imagery skill predicted greater temporal regularity during Recall in the presence of auditory interference. Motor imagery aided pitch accuracy overall when interference conditions were manipulated at encoding (Experiment 1) but not at retrieval (Experiment 2). Thus, skilled performers' imagery abilities had distinct influences on encoding and retrieval of musical sequences.

Concepts: Memory, Skill, Performance, Learning, Intelligence, Music, Skills


Humans have a natural expertise in recognizing faces. However, the nature of the interaction between this critical visual biological skill and memory is yet unclear. Here, we had the unique opportunity to test two individuals who have had exceptional success in the World Memory Championships, including several world records in face-name association memory. We designed a range of face processing tasks to determine whether superior/expert face memory skills are associated with distinctive perceptual strategies for processing faces. Superior memorizers excelled at tasks involving associative face-name learning. Nevertheless, they were as impaired as controls in tasks probing the efficiency of the face system: face inversion and the other-race effect. Super memorizers did not show increased hippocampal volumes, and exhibited optimal generic eye movement strategies when they performed complex multi-item face-name associations. Our data show that the visual computations of the face system are not malleable and are robust to acquired expertise involving extensive training of associative memory.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Skill, Learning, Face, Faces, Procedural memory, Skills


Competitive Scrabble players devote considerable time to studying words and practicing Scrabble-related skills (e.g., anagramming). This training is associated with extraordinary performance in lexical decision, the standard visual word recognition task (Hargreaves, Pexman, Zdrazilova & Sargious, 2012). In the present study we investigated the neural consequences of this lexical expertise. Using both event-related and resting-state fMRI, we compared brain activity and connectivity in 12 competitive Scrabble experts with 12 matched non-expert controls. Results showed that when engaged in the lexical decision task (LDT), Scrabble experts made use of brain regions not generally associated with meaning retrieval in visual word recognition, but rather those associated with working memory and visual perception. The analysis of resting-state data also showed group differences, such that a different network of brain regions was associated with higher levels of Scrabble-related skill in experts than in controls.

Concepts: Brain, Neuroscience, Cognition, Cognitive science, Electroencephalography, Visual perception, Visual system, Skills


This article summarizes research from an ecological dynamics program of work on team sports exemplifying how small-sided and conditioned games (SSCGs) can enhance skill acquisition and decision-making processes during training. The data highlighted show how constraints of different SSCGs can facilitate emergence of continuous interpersonal coordination tendencies during practice to benefit team games players.

Concepts: Decision making, Critical thinking, Skill, Training, Learning, Skills, Dreyfus model of skill acquisition


to explore the views of expert midwives in Ireland and New Zealand of the skills they employ in expectant management of the third stage of labour (EMTSL).

Concepts: Critical thinking, New Zealand, Expert, Ireland, Scotland, Skills, Irish people


Clinical skills expertise can be advanced through accessible and cost-effective video-based observational practice activities. Previous findings suggest that the observation of performances of skills that include flaws can be beneficial to trainees. Observing the scope of variability within a skilled movement allows learners to develop strategies to manage the potential for and consequences associated with errors. This study tests this observational learning approach on the development of the skills of central line insertion (CLI).

Concepts: Critical thinking, Skill, Training, Learning, Knowledge, Skills


Merit and justice play a crucial role in ethical theory and political philosophy. Some theories view justice as allocation according to merit; others view justice as based on criteria of its own, and take merit and justice as two independent values. We study experimentally how these views are perceived. In our experiment subjects played two games (both against the computer): a game of skill and a game of luck. After each game they observed the earnings of all the subjects in the session, and thus the differences in outcomes. Each subject could reduce the winnings of one other person at a cost. The majority of the subjects used the option to subtract. The decision to subtract and the amount subtracted depended on whether the game was one of skill or luck, and on the distance between the earnings of the subject and those of others. Everything else being equal, subjects subtracted more in luck than in skill. In skill game, but not in luck, the subtraction becomes more likely, and the amount larger, as the distance increases. The results show that individuals considered favorable outcomes in luck to be undeserved, and thus felt more justified in subtracting. In the skill game instead, they considered more favorable outcomes (their own as well as others') as signal of ability and perhaps effort, which thus deserved merit; hence, they felt less motivated to subtract. However, a larger size of the unfavorable gap from the others increased the unpleasantness of poor performance, which in turn motivated larger subtraction. In conclusion, merit is attributed if and only if effort or skill significantly affect the outcome. An inequality of outcomes is viewed differently depending on whether merit causes the difference or not. Thus, merit and justice are strongly linked in the human perception of social order.

Concepts: Psychology, Addition, Skill, Experiment, Game, Skills, Dice, Game of skill


This review discusses previous literature that has examined the influence of muscular strength on various factors associated with athletic performance and the benefits of achieving greater muscular strength. Greater muscular strength is strongly associated with improved force-time characteristics that contribute to an athlete’s overall performance. Much research supports the notion that greater muscular strength can enhance the ability to perform general sport skills such as jumping, sprinting, and change of direction tasks. Further research indicates that stronger athletes produce superior performances during sport specific tasks. Greater muscular strength allows an individual to potentiate earlier and to a greater extent, but also decreases the risk of injury. Sport scientists and practitioners may monitor an individual’s strength characteristics using isometric, dynamic, and reactive strength tests and variables. Relative strength may be classified into strength deficit, strength association, or strength reserve phases. The phase an individual falls into may directly affect their level of performance or training emphasis. Based on the extant literature, it appears that there may be no substitute for greater muscular strength when it comes to improving an individual’s performance across a wide range of both general and sport specific skills while simultaneously reducing their risk of injury when performing these skills. Therefore, sport scientists and practitioners should implement long-term training strategies that promote the greatest muscular strength within the required context of each sport/event. Future research should examine how force-time characteristics, general and specific sport skills, potentiation ability, and injury rates change as individuals transition from certain standards or the suggested phases of strength to another.

Concepts: Phase, Strength training, Performance, Performing arts, Isometric exercise, Relative Strength Index, Skills, Physical strength


This study evaluated a technology-based early intervention for social communication skills in pre-schoolers in a randomised controlled trial. Participants were 54 children aged under 6 years with a diagnosis of autism, assigned to either intervention or control conditions. The app engaged children, who played consistently, regardless of developmental level, and was rated highly by parents. There were no significant group differences in parent-report measures post-intervention, nor in a measure of parent-child play at follow-up. Therefore, this intervention did not have an observable impact on real-world social communication skills and caution is recommended about the potential usefulness of iPad(™) apps for amelioration of difficulties in interaction. However, positive attitudes among participants, lack of harms and the potential of apps to deliver therapeutic content at low economic cost suggest this approach is worth pursuing further, perhaps targeting other skill domains.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Economics, Learning, Communication, Skills