Electroencephalographic studies of skilled psychomotor performance

Bradley D. Hatfield*, Amy J. Haufler, Tsung Min Hung, Thomas W. Spalding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


Measurements based on the EEG have featured prominently in shaping present-day concepts of the neurocognitive aspects of skilled performance. The techniques include measurements of spectral power, interelectrode coherence, event-related potential components such as the P300, slow potentials, and the method of cognitive inference. The advantages offered by EEG-based approaches lies in their spatiotemporal resolution (potentially 1 mm and less than 1 millisecond, respectively) and the potential to preserve ecological validity, i.e., to obtain measurements of cortical function under the same conditions that the task is normally performed. These studies indicate that activity is reduced in specific regions of the cerebral cortex of experts relative to that observed in novices. These changes occur over time as a result of practice. The authors argue that such cortical change results in less attentional demand and less cognitive interference with motor planning and execution. The findings attest to the plasticity of the central nervous system when one is engaged in goal-directed learning, and hold implications for understanding how the nervous system acquires voluntary skills, whether in the context of the training of an athlete or the rehabilitation of a patient who has lost motor skills due to a disease of the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-156
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004 May
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Elite performance
  • Event-related potentials
  • Marksmen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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