A comparison of frontal theta activity during shooting among biathletes and cross-country skiers before and after vigorous exercise

Previous studies using electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor brain activity have linked higher frontal theta activity to more focused attention and superior performance in goal-directed precision tasks. In biathlon, shooting performance requires focused attention after high-intensity cross-country skiing. Purpose: To compare biathletes (serving as experts) and cross-country skiers (novices) and examine the effect of vigorous exercise on frontal theta activity during shooting. Methods: EEG frontal theta (4–7 Hz) activity was compared between nine biathletes and eight cross-country skiers at comparable skiing performance levels who fired 100 shots on a 5-m indoor shooting range in quiescent condition followed by 20 shots after each of five 6-min high-intensity roller skiing sessions in the skating technique on a treadmill. Results: Biathletes hit 80±14% and 81±10% before and after the roller skiing sessions, respectively. For the cross-country skiers these values were significantly lower than for the biathletes and amounted to 39±13% and 44±11% (p<0.01). Biathletes had on average 6% higher frontal theta activity during shooting as compared to cross-country skiers (F1,15 = 4.82, p = 0.044), but no significant effect of vigorous exercise on frontal theta activity in either of the two groups were found (F1,15 = 0.14, p = 0.72). Conclusions: Biathletes had significantly higher frontal theta activity than cross-country skiers during shooting, indicating higher focused attention in biathletes. Vigorous exercise did not decrease shooting performance or frontal theta activity during shooting in biathletes and cross-country skiers.
© Copyright 2016 PLOSOne. All rights reserved.

Subjects: biathlon shooting cross-country skiing load maximum load intensity EEG brain activity relation performance
Notations: endurance sports biological and medical sciences
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150461
Published in: PLOSOne
Published: 2016
Volume: 11
Issue: 3
Pages: e0150461
Document types: article
Language: English
Level: advanced