Traditional human electroencephalography (EEG) experiments that study visuomotor processing use controlled laboratory conditions with limited ecological validity. In the real world, the brain integrates complex, dynamic, multimodal visuomotor cues to guide the execution of movement. The parietal and occipital cortices are especially important in the online control of goal-directed actions. Table tennis is a whole-body, responsive activity requiring rapid visuomotor integration that presents a myriad of unanswered neurocognitive questions about brain function during real-world movement. The aim of this study was to quantify the electrocortical dynamics of the parieto-occipital cortices while playing a sport with high-density electroencephalography. We included analysis of power spectral densities (PSDs), event-related spectral perturbations, intertrial phase coherences (ITPCs), event-related potentials (ERPs), and event-related phase coherences of parieto-occipital source-localized clusters while participants played table tennis with a ball machine and a human. We found significant spectral power fluctuations in the parieto-occipital cortices tied to hit events. Ball machine trials exhibited more fluctuations in θ power around hit events, an increase in intertrial phase coherence and deflection in the event-related potential, and higher event-related phase coherence between parieto-occipital clusters as compared with trials with a human. Our results suggest that sport training with a machine elicits fundamentally different brain dynamics than training with a human.
Keywords: electroencephalography; independent component analysis; mobile brain-body imaging; table tennis.
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