Author(s): Del Percio C, Babiloni C, Infarinato F, Marzano N, Iacoboni M,
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Abstract "Attentional" adaptations are fundamental effects for sport performance. We tested the hypothesis that tiredness and muscular fatigue poorly affect visuo-spatial attentional processes in elite karate athletes. To this aim, 14 elite karate athletes and 11 non-athletes were involved in an isometric contraction exercise protocol up to muscular fatigue. Blood lactate and attention measurements were taken. Posner's test probed "endogenous" (i.e., internally planned allocation of spatial attention) and "reflexive" (i.e., brisk variation of endogenous spatial attention due to unexpected external stimuli) attention. Lactate and attentional measurements were performed before (Block 1, B1) and after the fatiguing exercise (B2) and at the end of a recovery period (B3). Compared to the non-athletes, the athletes showed a better performance in the fatigue protocol, confirmed by the higher absolute lactate values in B2. The correct responses in the "valid trials" probing "endogenous" attention were 92.4\% (B1), 93.9\% (B2), and 95.8\% (B3) in the non-athletes, and 98.5\%, 96.4\%, 95.5\% in the elite karate athletes. The correct responses in the "invalid trials" probing "reflexive" attention were 95.4\%, 89.7\%, 93.2\% in the non-athletes, and 96.4\%, 97.3\%, 98.5\% in the elite karate athletes. The percentage of correct responses in the "invalid" trials significantly decreased from B1 to B2 in the non-athletes but not in the elite karate athletes. In conclusion, tiredness and muscular fatigue do not affect "reflexive" attentional processes of elite karate athletes, which is crucial to contrast attacks coming from an unexpected spatial region.
This article was published in Arch Ital Biol
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics