Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Jessica Green

Second Reader

Neil Levens


Within the game of baseball, every hit, pitch, and catch, rely on a player’s ability to respond quickly and appropriately to the resulting play in a manner that allows them to be an asset on the field. The most successful athletes are those best able to allocate their attention to accomplish these goal-oriented tasks. To explore this attentional orientation, occipital neural recordings of alpha waves often show a preemptive shift in phase alignment according to temporal anticipations. Here we aimed to identify influences on voluntary attention using cueing paradigms to examine stimulus-response timing relative to validity and athletic background, while also analyzing the neural effects resulting from the anticipatory guiding of attention. Statistical analysis demonstrated that valid spatial cues and simple motor responses elicited significantly shorter reaction times than invalid trials and localized motor responses. The pre-stimulus shift in alpha phase was also significantly different between temporally predictive trials and those lacking. In contrast, the presence of a significant positive correlation between temporally invalid reaction times and years of baseball experience was unexpected, indicating the more experienced baseball players took longer to respond to temporally invalid trials opposing the hypothesized relationship. Similarly, years of experience in both baseball and other externally-paced sports were positively correlated with the alpha phase shift within temporally valid trials suggesting a greater experience-dependent modulation of alpha phase. While the initial results followed the expected within-subjects effects of factor manipulation, the athletic correlations surprisingly indicated towards larger effect differences for students with more dynamic athletic experience.

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