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The role of working memory in expertise domain


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Glavaš, Dragan. (2018). The role of working memory in expertise domain. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Psychology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij psihologije) [mentor Tonković, Mirjana].

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Introduction Skilled sport performance would not be possible without deliberate practice and extensive work. As a result of engagement in deliberate practice activities, experts acquire sophisticated and complex skills that, as proposed by the long-term working memory theory (Ericsson & Charness, 1994; Ericsson & Kintsch, 1995), enable them to circumvent basic limits of working memory capacity and sequential processing. Consistent with classical models of skill acquisition (e.g. Anderson, 1982; Schneider & Shiffrin, 1977), Ericsson (2014) stated that acquired mechanisms gradually result in automated processes and circumvent the role of any basic general cognitive capacities. Thus, according to this theoretical framework, deliberate practice provides optimal opportunities for learning, skill acquisition and improving current level of performance in a specific domain (Ericsson & Charness, 1994), and can result with experts’ adaptation to the specific constraints imposed by the performance environment (Ericsson & Lehmann, 1996). Supported by research on superior perceptual-cognitive skills of experts (e.g. Mann, Williams, Ward, & Janelle, 2007; Williams & Ford, 2008), this view has since become the dominant theoretical account of sport performance and sport expertise. However, recent research breakthroughs emphasize the role of working memory in sports performance at different levels of expertise (e.g. Hambrick & Meinz, 2011) moving the spotlight to the capacity models (Baddeley, 1986; Engle, Kane, Tuholski, 1999). The aim and the research methodology The aim of this paper was to examine the role of working memory capacity in tactical decision-making tasks with different attentional demands in soccer players of different level of expertise. A total of 129 soccer players (42 professional, 46 amateurs and 40 recreational players) aged between 18 to 42 years (M = 26.36, SD = 5.58) participated in the study. Two working memory tasks (operation span and simmetry span) were used in the research, as well as three tactical decision-making tasks: tactical decision-making task without attentional demands, tactical decision-making task with auditory distraction stimuli and tactical decisionmaking task with divided attention demand. Results The results indicated faster tactical decision-making of professional in contrast to amateur and recreational soccer players, as well as faster tactical decision - making of amateurs in relation to recreational soccer players in all three tactical tasks used. More accurate tactical decision-making of professional in comparison to amateur and recreational soccer players has also been found in all three tactical decision-making tasks, while the higher accuracy of amateur soccer players compared to recreational ones was not noted only in the divided attention tactical task. Likewise, in all three tactical decision-making tasks, soccer players with a higher working memory capacity made faster tactical decisions, while the positive effect of the working memory capacity on the tactical decision accuracy has not been established solely in the task without the need for additional attention. The expertise-working memory capacity interaction effect has not been found in any of tactical decision-making tasks, which indicates equal contribution of the working memory capacity to the tactical decision-making of soccer players with different level of expertise. Also, low working memory capacity soccer players were not more likely to detect their own name in a distracting auditory stimulus. Discussion Faster and more accurate tactical-decisions of professional soccer players in comparison to the amateur and recreative soccer players are one more empirical argument to the importance of deliberate practice and acquired domain related knowledge. Furthermore, showing predictive role of working memory capacity in tactical decision-making of soccer players with different levels of expertise, results support capacity models of working memory and challenge longterm working memory theory propositions and related circumvention-of-limits hypothesis. Firm empirical evidence for capacity models, are particularly visible from the results of tactical decision - making tasks with distracting auditory stimulus and divided attention tactical - decision making task. It seems that working memory capacity is equally strong predictor of decision making reaction time of professional, amateur and recreational soccer players in those tactical demands. Taken together, results suggested that expertise level and working memory capacity make additive and independent contributions to soccer tactical - decision making, which is the main tenet of building block hypothesis. However, in line with theoretical expectations, in some aspects of tactical decision making, such as tactical accuracy in conditions with auditory distraction and tactical speed and accuracy in divided attention conditions, results showed tendency for the interaction effect that indicates circumvention of working memory capacity at highest level of expertise. Future research designs, including similar or diverse tactical decision - making tasks, are needed to test those hypotheses and to shed light to the role of working memory capacity in tactical decision making, and when, and to what extent circumvention of that capacity is feasible.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: working memory, working memory capacity, tactical decision making, long-term working memory theory, capacity models, soccer
Subjects: Psychology > Kognitivna psihologija
Psychology > Psihologija sporta
Departments: Department of Psychology
Supervisor: Tonković, Mirjana
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij psihologije
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2018 05:09
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 05:09

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