5.2 – Information Processing

5.2.1- Describe a simple model of information processing



  • The environment that the performer can see, hear and feel
  • It is sometimes called the display or the stimuli
  • What the performer did
  • Example:
    • Tennis Player
      • It would be what shot they played in order to return the ball and whether or not this was successful
        • This is referred to as the response
  • Refers to the persons brain and spinal cord


5.2.2 – Describe Welford’s model of information processing


  • WELFORD (1968) – Research trying to explain what actually happens in the Central Nervous System (CNS) when processing information


    • Take in information through our senses and temporarily store all of these inputs prior to sorting them out
    • The inputs that are seen as relevant to the decision are then stored in the short-term memory
    • A decision is made by comparing the information in the short-term memory with previous experiences stored in the long-term memory
    • With reference to the long term memory for the required action the decision is carried out
    • The action and the results are stored for future reference
    • The whole process then begins again

Sense Organs
  • An organ of the body that responds to external stimuli by conveying impulses to the sensory nervous system
  • The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses
Short-Term Memory
  • Holding a small amount of information in mind in an active
Long-Term Memory
  • Holding a large amount of information in mind in an active
Decision Making
  • The action or process of making decisions, especially important ones
  • Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task


5.2.3 – Outline the components associated with sensory input


  • The senses are responsible for relaying information about the environment the brain
    • The information is then interrupted by the brain based on past experience of similar situations and is held in the long-term memory (LTM)


  • The senses can be divided into proprioception, exteroceptors and interoceptors




  • ‘Sense of self’
  • In the limbs, the proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length and muscle tension
    • Which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space




  • Provide information from outside the body
  • The main exteroceptors involved in sensation with regard to sport are vision and audition




  • Provide information from within the body
  • Information about body position and the position of limbs
  • The main interoceptors involved in sport are the vestibular apparatus, which provides information about balance; and joint receptors, muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs, which provide information about limb positions

5.2.4 – Explain the signal-detection process


  • SWETS (1964)


    • Individuals receive over 100,000 pieces of information per second
    • This may be information from the environment and / or from within the person themselves
      • Thus actually perceiving an important piece of information – He called a ‘signal’ which is problematic


    • Swets termed the background, non-essential information ‘noise’
    • This may mean actual noise – The sound of spectators, but covers all information that is not part of the signal
    • Noise can be visual or from within yourself such as worrying about falling


    • According to signal detection theory, the probability of detecting any given signal depends on the intensity of the signal compared to the intensity of background noise


    • Detecting the signal would depend on the interaction between 2 variables; d-prime (d’) and the criterion (C)


      • d’
        • Represents the individuals sensitivity to that particular signal
        • Sensitivity may depend on the efficiency of the persons sense organs (eyes, vestibular apparatus)
        • It may also depend of experience (familiar signals are thought to be more readily detected than unfamiliar stimuli)


  • C
        • Represents the effect of a persons bias on detection
        • Affected by arousal level, which in turn affects the probability of the detection of signal
        • When arousal is low the signal is missed – Error of omission
        • If arousal is high and detection is considered to be a high priority, of too much importance in fact, the individual may perceive a signal when one does not exist an error of commision


    • Signal detection proficiency can be improved by ensuring that the performer is optimally aroused but can also be aided by good selective attention


5.2.5 – Distinguish between the characteristics of sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory


Sensory Store Short-Term Memory Long-Term Memory
  • Modality specific:
    • Sight
    • Sound
    • Smell
    • Taste
    • Touch
  • Information that is attended to enter
  • Requires constant rehearsal to prevent information loss
  • Holds vast quantity of information
  • Includes all memories, knowledge about the world and plans for the future
  • 1 Item
  • 7 items (+/- 2)
  • Indefinite
  • Less than 1 second
  • Lasts for 6 – 12 Seconds
  • Indefinite


5.2.6 – Discuss the relationship between selective attention and memory


  • Given that out STM has a limited capacity, we have a problem when trying to deal with all of the information in our environment. The limitation is so great that some psychologists believe that we can only deal with one thing at a time; this is called single channel theory (WELFORD 1968)


  • WICKENS (1980) have argued that we can deal with more than one piece of information at a time if the tasks are dissimilar
    • Example:
      • Running down the court bouncing a basketball while at the same time making a decision as to whether to pass or shoot
        • Running with the ball occupies a different part of the brain to making the decision therefore the 2 tasks will not affect one another


  • The way we overcome this limited capacity is by the use of selective attention
  • Selective attention refers to the individual focusing on relevant information while ignoring irrelevant information


  • According to BROADBENT (1956) all information enters the STM, but we only attend to the selected stimuli
  • Unselected stimuli are filtered out by selected stimuli are compared to information stored in LTM
    • This allows us to make decisions on what action to take



  • While selective attention takes place as described by BROADBENTS
    • Example:
      • Stimuli being chosen for processing after entering STM, we can also make decisions on what process before the information enters STM
      • Past experience of similar situations allows the performer to search the appropriate areas of the environment for relevant information
        • Sometimes attention is involuntary
          • However, a sudden loud noise or a flash of bright light will attract our attention probably as a subconscious safety factor


5.2.7 – Compare different methods of memory improvement

5.2.8 – Define the term response time and reaction time




  • The time from the introduction of a stimulus to the complete of the action required to deal with the problem (McMorris 2004)
  • Response time is made up of reaction time and movement time




  • The time that elapses from the sudden onset of a stimulus of the beginning of an overt response (Oxendine 1986)
  • Movement time is the time is takes to carry out the motor aspects of the performance



5.2.9 – Outline factors that determine response time


  • Response time increases throughout childhood and adolescence, however as we get older it gets slower
  • Movement time is affected by fitness, particularly power and speed of limb movement
  • Training can greatly affected movement time but reaction time is less easy to improve

  • The main factor affect in speed of reaction is the number of choices that the individual has to make
  • If there are no choices, what we call simple reaction time, the mean times range between 170 and 200 msecs
  • As we increase the number of choices, what is termed choice reaction time, the times increase


  • HICK (1952)
    • As you doubled the number of stimulus – response couplings the reaction time increased
    • If the reaction time is plotted against the log of the stimulus – response coupling there is a linear increase


    • Generally, reaction time increases by about 150 msecs every time the stimulus – response groupings are doubled


5.2.10 – Evaluate the concept of the psychological refractory period (PRP)


  • WELFORD (1968)
    • Undertook an experiment in which he had participants respond to a stimulus (S1). Reaction time to S1 was as Welford expected. However when he introduced a second stimulus (S2) shortly after the introduction of S1, the participants demonstrated slower than normal reaction times to S2
      • Thus, Welford stated that when 2 stimuli are presented close together the reaction time to the second stimulus is slower than the normal reaction time
        • The time gap was called the psychological refractory period (PRP)
          • Welford claimed that processing of S2 could not take place until processing of S1 had been completed

  • The feint (a deceptive or pretended blow, thrust, or other movement, especially in boxing or fencing) is S1 and the actual movement is S2
    • If the timing is correct, the defender will be comparatively slow in reacting to the real movement


      • This is the skill of rugby players like Shane Williams, basketball players like Jason King


        • Similar feints can be seen in the drop shot in badminton or a dummy punch in boxing


5.2.11 – Describe a motor programme

  • KEELE (1968)
    • Defined a motor programme as being a set of muscle commands that allow movements to be performed without any peripheral feedback


  • Examples of motor programmes are basically any skill you can think of:
    • Hitting a tennis ball
    • Catching a netball
    • Doing a somersault


  • A number of motor programmes can be put together to form an executive motor programme:
    • Arab spring and flick flack
    • The triple jump; hop, step, jump


  • Many gymnastic routines involve the completion of a number of executive motor programmes in quick succession
    • To the gymnast they have become one large executive programme


  • The best example of an executive programme outside of sport is playing the organ
    • The organist must put together movements from each hand, each of which are carrying out separate motor programmes, as well as the movement of both feet, which are also carrying out separate motor programmes to one another
    • To the organist however, he or she is playing one tune with ‘one’ set of movements


5.2.12 – Compare motor programs for both open and closed loop perspectives


  • KEELE (1968)
    • Model of motor programmes is an open loop model
      • It accounts for the performance of a skill without recourse to feedback
        • It explains how we can carry out fast movements


          • For Example:
            • A boxer throwing a straight left will do so at about 60-70 msecs
              • This is too fast for him to use feedback to alter the movement once it has begun
            • Trying to hit a baseball pitched at over 100 kilometers per hour
              • Once the shot has been made it can not be changed


  • Not all movements take place this quickly
    • Many movements can be altered during their execution
      • We can alter our movements when hitting a baseball pitched at 50 kilometers per hour or returning a slow serve in tennis
        • These movements are under a closed loop control


  • JACK ADAMS (1971)
    • Was the first to describe how we use closed loop control
      • He argued that as we learn a skill, we develop the perceptual trace
        • The perceptual trace is memory for the feel of successful past movements
          • Once a there is a developed perceptual trace, it can compare the trace with the feel of the ongoing movement
            • This allows us to correct inappropriate actions
              • While the perceptual trace controls an already ongoing movement the selection and initiation of the movement is under the control of memory trace


This theory states the following:

  • Decisions are made in the brain
  • All information for one movement is sent in a single message
  • The message is received by the muscles which perform the movement
  • Feedback may or may not be available but it doesn’t control the action

This theory accounts well for fast continuous movements

  • For Example:
    • A golf swing

Although it does not work so well for slower movements which may involve reactions and repositioning

  • For Example:
    • A gymnast on the balance beam
This theory explains slow movements well but not fast movements

  • Decisions are made in the brain
  • Not all of the information is sent together
  • Information is received by the muscles to initiate the movement
  • Feedback is always available and is vital to correct movement patterns and adjust to changing needs


    • An explanation of motor programmes that include both open and closed loop control
      • Schmidt described a schema as being a set of generalized rules or rules that are generic to a group of movements
        • Schmidt believed that we develop 2 kinds of memory for movements: recall and recognition schema




  • Memory with regard to the choice and initiation of action




  • Memory for the feel of a movement and it allows us to make appropriate changes in the action


Both schemas require the individual to recall memory of similar past situations from LTM. These are then stored in STM and allow the person to decide the actual movement to be used. Remember the schema is a generalized set of rules but we must carry out a specific action. So comparing what I hold in STM about past situations with what I hold with regard to the present situation allows me to decide on the specifics of the movement. Schmidt called this process deciding the response specifications.


5.2.13 – Outline the role of feedback in information processing models


  • Feedback is the term we use to describe information resulting from an action or response




  • Available to the performer without outside help
  • We can see the results of our actions without anyone needing to tell us what happened




  • Information that is provided for us by someone or something else
  • This can be a coach or a teacher, equally it can be a stopwatch or tape measure
  • This feedback can be concurrent, being given during performance, or terminal, given after completion of the performance




Knowledge of Results – KR Post-response information concerning the outcome of the action
  • Visual
  • Seeing the end product of an action
  • Long Jumper
    • Knowing the distance jumped
  • Track Athlete
    • Knowing the time ran
Knowledge of Performance – KP Consists of post-response information concerning the nature of the movement
  • The feel of the movement
  • Knowledge of sensory consequences




  • Can be telling someone that he or she has done well
  • Prescriptive feedback
    • The coach tells the learner how to improve performance:
      • ‘Do it this way’
  • Concentrates on errors
  • Sometimes coaches point out errors and then follow up with prescriptive feedback
  • Prescriptive feedback has been shown to be effective following either a negative or positive approach
  • Negative feedback includes:
  • ‘Dont do it like that’
  • You’ve got it wrong, you did this and shouldn’t have
    • This latter type of feedback can be very demotivating and is also of little use to beginners as they need prescriptive feedback


5.2.14 – Outline the role of feedback with the learning processes


  • Feedback can be a great motivator
    • We all like praise, inparticular from those whom we perceive as being important
      • The failure of coaches to praise good performance can have disastrous effects on the athlete’s self-confidence
        • It can also give learners the false impression that they are not improving when in fact they are
          • However, overdoing the giving of praise can have negative effects
            • If all athletes hear is ‘well done’, ‘great’ and ‘brilliant’ then these words either come to mean nothing or become so familiar to the learner that, in fact, they are not perceived by them all


  • With regards to learning, the main factor is that the performer improves
    • Beginners need prescriptive feedback
      • They need to be told what to do in order to improve performance
        • As they improve and increase their knowledge of the activity, tal they require is KR
          • If they are making an error, they can resolve the problem themselves by comparing what is happening now with the store of knowledge they have told their LTM
            • So now we can say they require descriptive feedback

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