Performance improved even after athletes learned of deception

May 29, 2014
Study: Performance improved even after athletes learned of deception
The computer software interfaced with the cycle ergometer allowed subjects in the study to see a visual representation of their own current performance along with a second rider, which was manipulated by setting it faster than the subject's baseline. Credit: Indiana University

Indiana University researchers say a little deception caused cyclists in their 4-kilometer time trial to up their performance even after they realized they had been tricked.

The findings support the idea that the brain plays a powerful role in how hard athletes push their bodies.

"The idea is that there's some sort of governor in your brain that regulates so you don't overheat, or run out of gas, so to speak," said Ren-Jay Shei, a doctoral student in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "In this case, the governor was reset to a higher upper limit, allowing for improved performance."

For the study, 14 trained, competitive male cyclists participated in four time trials. For each session, they rode cycle ergometers, which are stationary bikes that measure such variables as speed and power output and display the readings on computer monitors on the handlebars.

The first time trial was designed to familiarize the cyclists with the procedures. The second was considered the baseline session. In the third and fourth, two avatars and their corresponding stats appeared side by side on the . In the session involving deception, the stats for the avatar on the right were programmed to be 102 percent of the baseline performance of the cyclist, yet the cyclist was told the stats were based on his actual baseline results.

Not only did most of the improve during the deception round, but the group improved by an average of 2.1 percent over baseline even when they knew they had been tricked.

"This helps us understand how the body protects itself during exercise," Shei said.

Shei will discuss the findings during the behavioral aspects of sport session at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29. Co-authors include Robert F. Chapman, John S. Raglin and Timothy D. Mickleborough, all in the Department of Kinesiology in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington; and Kevin G. Thompson, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia.

Explore further: Can energy drinks improve the physical and mental performance of cyclists?

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RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet May 29, 2014
A further dimension is the amount of energy reserved for the peer group (or tribe or society etc).

This reserve is released upon certain stimulus, such as when the crowd get behind an athlete.

Even tennis players report being lifted by the crowd and find it harder when the crowd is behind the other player. But both players are trying to access all available resources, why should some be released only with crowd endorsement?

The easiest way for a predisposition to form groups upon which you rely to evolve is to give a person a reward upon correct behaviour. the easiest way to achieve this is to take something away and return it only when stimulated by the group.

A very simple evolutionary trick results in tribal or group behaviour and minimises greedy, selfish and cheating behaviour.

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