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AS LevelSkill AcquisitionInformation ProcessingExam Questions 3 & 4


Information ProcessingThe effectiveness of your information processing system is avital factor in your ability as an individual and can have a bigimpact on the level of your performance. Often it is not theperformer who is the most skilful that succeeds, but the onethat is most able to identify the relevant cues, ignore those thatare irrelevant and, based on that information, select theappropriate action in the quickest time.


Theorists make the assumption that our brains function verymuch the same way as a computer.Information processing in its simplistic form is -:INPUT >>> DECISION MAKING >>> OUTPUT >>> FEEDBACKInput - information is gathered from the environment.Decision-making- gathered information is used to formulate amotor programme.Output - motor programme is completed by the performer.Feedback - information is gathered during and after theperformance.


However there are two common models used to illustrateinformation processing; Whiting (1969) and Wellford (1976)Whiting & Welford ModelsWhilst they differ slightly in their structure and terminology,their basic process is very similar.Input > Stimulus > Response > Response > Outputidentification selection programmingHowever this process can be effected by perception, attention,memory and decision making where all play an important part.


InputInput can include pictures, sounds and feelings or anythingthat can convey information to you but mainly come from yoursenses via receptors in your sensory system.Input ReceptorsThe three forms of input receptors are:Exteroceptors – information gathered from outside the bodywhich are extrinsic and can be visual, auditory, touch, smelland taste.Proprioceptors – information gathered from inside the body vianerve receptors in the muscles and joints. (intrinsic)Interoceptors – information from the internal organs, which ispassed to the central nervous system, to control functions suchas blood flow.


Stimulus IdentificationGathered information/stimuli is interpreted then used to decidehow to act. This process is known as perception.PerceptionDuring perception, identification of a stimulus occurs. Thisinvolves three elements: Detection, Comparison andRecognition. The DCR Process.Detection – the process of the registering of the stimulus, bythe sense organs.Comparison – the process of referring the stimulus to thememory, to compare it to previously stored stimuli.Recognition – the process of finding corresponding stimuli inthe memory.


During a sporting activity, we will be receiving a tremendousamount of information from our senses. There is so much thatwe cannot detect, compare and recognise all of it. The vastmajority of it is ignored. We have to learn to concentrate on thestimuli that are important . This is called selective attention.


Response SelectionThe relevant information is assessed and a decision madebased on previous experience, which is stored in the memory.Example; A netball player will decide upon a particular type ofpass to use.Response ProgrammingThis is where the decision of what to do is transferred to themuscular system via the motor nerves telling the muscles whatto do. Example; A netball player makes the pass to a player.OutputThe motor programme is completed by the performer.Example; The netball player completes the pass to herteammate.Motor programme – organises a series of subroutines into thecorrect sequence to perform a movement.


AS LevelSkill AcquisitionInformation ProcessingExam Questions 3 & 4


Information ProcessingMemory• Memory is a key element in information processing.• Learning is concerned with acquiring relatively permanentchanges in behaviour, therefore this information must bestored in some way allowing us to recall it when needed.• When performing in a sporting environment, we are alwaysmaking decisions based on the current situation and ourprevious experience, allowing us to make the correct choicebased on our own strengths and weaknesses. The faster theinformation can be retrieved, the faster the decision can bemade and executed.


Memory is subdivided into three components and theirrelationship is outlined below.DiagramShort-term term Sensory Store (STSS)• The short-term term sensory store collects all the informationentering the body via the sensory system.• It has a huge capacity to receive information BUT can onlyretain it for a short period of time, up to one second before it islost.• The information is prioritised and irrelevant stimuli discarded.This process is known as selective attention.


Selective attention allows the performer to gather onlyimportant information and consequently speeds up thedecision-making time. By focusing on smaller cues, we reactfaster to them.Example, a tennis player will attempt to focus on the ball, theirposition on court and their opponent. Ignoring the crowd,advertising boards and the consequence of the match.Often a performer who can focus and block out distractions willbe more effective than a more skilful player who cannotconcentrate fully. Often referred to as “tunnel vision”.


A performer can improve their selective attention by:• Using appropriate practice and presentation methods.• Highlighting specific cues on which to focus theirconcentration. This can be done by using different guidancemethods.• Altering the intensity of the stimulus. E.g. colour and speed ofthe object, loudness of the sound etc.• Referring to past experiences.• Making the stimuli meaning full or unique.• Reaching the correct level of arousal and maintainingmotivation.


Short-term term Memory (STM)/ Working MemoryThe STM receives the filtered information and compares it tostored information about past experiences before the finaldecision is made.It has a limited capacity of 5 to 9 pieces of information whichcan be retained for approximately 30 seconds.If the information is practiced and learnt it is transferred to theLong-term memory.Implications - if a performer is overloaded with informationthey will not be able to process it all at once and their learningngwill be less effective.


A performer can improve their STM by:• Chunking - information is arranged into larger units or ‘chunks’allowing more pieces of information to be stored.• Chaining - the linking together of pieces of information.• Using selective attention - limiting the amount of irrelevantinformation passing into the short term memory.


Long-term Memory (LTM)LTM is the permanent retention of information throughrepetition or rehearsal.It has the capacity to store vast amounts of information for anunlimited period of time.If faced with a new situation the relevant stimuli are passed onfrom the STM, where a comparison is made with any similarexperiences. If recognition occurs the similarities are noted anda decision is made quickly. If the situation is new, a motorprogramme will be formed based on available knowledge, butthis may take slightly longer and delay the decision-makingprocess.


A performer can improve their LTM by:• Improving the capability of the STM.• Practising and repeating movements, causing ‘over-learning’ ofmotor programmes.• Developing a range of past experiences. E.g. modified games.• Using mental rehearsal.• Making the information meaningful, relevant and interesting tothe performer.


The diagram below compares the possible memory process ofboth a novice and an experienced performer when confrontedwith the same situation. Both are playing in a rugby match, inpossession of the ball, with support players on either side. Theyare confronted with a defender attempting to make a tackle.STSSSTMLTMNovice PerformerGathers information about some ofhis/hers own team ,opponents,own position; aware of crowd andcoach calling instructions.Some relevant stimuli collected,e.g location of defender andposition of one support player plussome irrelevant cues, e.g shoutsfrom crowd about what to do.Limited reference data available,distracted by the crowd and eithermakes the pass to the closetsupport player or runs into thedefender.Experienced PerformerGathers information about his/herown team, opponents, personalposition.Eliminates some stimuli, e.g crowdnoise and location of players whowould not be an option to involve,but retains information about severalpossible teammates’ and defenders’positions.Large amount of previous experienceallows the player to select from arange of options, to pass to thesupport player in the best position orto kick the ball into suitable space orpass to another player.


Hot-TipTip-: : Make sure you know the characteristics andrelationship between different components of memory and areable to relate them to practical examples. You should be able tooutline methods to improve memory.


AS LevelSkill AcquisitionInformation ProcessingExam Questions 3 & 4


Information ProcessingDecision Making and Reaction TimeA key element in the decision making process for a performeris the amount of time it takes to receive, interpret andanalyse stimuli to then formulate an appropriate response.The faster this can be achieved, the more time the performeris likely to have in order to complete the selected skillsuccessfully.We often attempt to confuse our opponents by giving themfalse cues, such as a dummy pass.A performer with a faster reaction time can delay the start oftheir movement, giving them a greater opportunity to fullyassess the situation and eliminating the need to guess whatmay happen.


The diagram below shows the whole sequence of responding toa stimulus in the context of a sprint.DiagramResponse Time = Reaction Time + Movement TimeReaction Time - the time between the onset of a stimulus andthe initiation of the response. It is the time the informationprocessing system takes to interpret the situation, formulate amotor programme and transmit the information to the muscularsystem. E.g the time taken when a striker thinks they have theopportunity to score a goal and the start of the shooting action.Movement Time - the time between the start of the movementand its completion. It is the time the performer takes tophysically complete the movement when the muscular systemhas received the message from the brain via the effectorsystem. E.g the time it takes the striker to move their limbs tostrike the ball.


Response Time - the time from the onset of the stimulus to thecompletion of the movement. it’s s the combination of thereaction time and the movement time. E.g the overall time thestriker takes to complete the shot from first seeing the ball,their position and the goal.Hot Tip -:: Make sure you know the definitions of each term, theirrelationship and you are able to apply them to practicalexamples.


Reaction time is an ability and it varies between individuals.Many factors can affect the speed of a performers reactiontime.Age - reaction times improve until the early twenties but thenbecome slower.Gender - males generally have faster reaction times but as webecome older, the difference becomes less.Fatigue - tired performers tend to have slower reaction times.Intensity of the stimulus - the more intense, the faster thetime, E.g brighter and louder stimulus help increase reactiontime.Probability of the stimulus occurring - if the stimulus isexpected, there is a reduced element of doubt and anticipation.E.g an opponent always plays the same shot in a particularsituation.


Presence of a warning signal - this may be a call or gesture. E.gthe starter at the beginning of a race issuing commands orcoloured lights to begin a grand prix.Personality - introverts tend to have slower reaction times thanextroverts.Previous experience - the greater the experience the faster therecall from the long term memory.Arousal Level - optimum arousal will cause heightenedconcentration levels and allow the performer to only focus onkey stimuli.Stimulus-response compatibility - the reaction time is faster ifthe required action is normally linked to the stimulus. E.g bangof a gun in athletics.Body Temperature - reaction time is slower if the body is cold.


Limbs used - the further the nerve impulse has to travel, theslower the reaction time. E.g hand movements tend to becompleted faster than foot movements.Sense Used to detect stimulus - sight, sound, touch andkinaesthetic awareness all produce differing reaction times.Fastest Reaction TimeSlowest Reaction TimeKinaestheticHearingTouchVisionPainSmell


There are two forms of reaction time -:Choice reaction time – is the time taken for an individual torespond correctly from a choice of several stimuli each onedemanding a different response. Example, the basketball playerdeciding whether to shoot, pass or dribble.Simple reaction time – is quicker than choice, and is the timetaken to start a single response to a single stimulus.Example the time a sprinter takes to start moving off the blockswhen the gun is fired.• Audible stimuli produce quicker reaction times than visualstimuli.• Choice reaction time is far more common in sport. Performershave to make a choice about what to do.• The experienced performer has a much quicker choice reactiontime than a novice.


AS LevelSkill AcquisitionInformation ProcessingExam Questions 3 & 4


Information ProcessingHicks Law and Single channel Hypothesis

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