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Title: Development Of Cognitive Skills Enhancement Model For Sports Persons
Authors: Aggarwal, Ashish
Supervisor: Agarwal, Ravinder
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2021
Abstract: The elite-level performance in sports requires the optimal functioning of cognitive skills such as attention and working memory in complex dynamic environments. Players need to extract and integrate meaningful information while allocating the attentional resources of the brain in different areas of dynamic scenes. Several factors, such as background noise, the field of view, and the number of players (opponents and teammates) affect the functioning of cognitive skills in the field. Computerized cognitive training is one of the methods meant to enhance cognitive skills. Psychological measurement is a well-recognized way of assessing cognitive skills. The brain is the pew of all cognitive processes and measured through brain signals, i.e., Electroencephalograph (EEG). The non-invasive nature of EEG signals made it promising to acquire neural information about cognitive skills. The prime objective of the present research work is to design a cognitive training model and provide psycho-physiological evidence of enhancement in cognitive skills. Here, a cognitive training model, Multiple Object Tracking (MOT) was designed, which incorporates the factors; background noise, the field of view, and several subjects, which affect cognitive skills.EEG signals from 14-channels using Emotiv Epoc of twenty-five football players were recorded while performing MOT. Several artifacts like muscles, powerline, eye blink artifacts, etc. affect the analysis of the brain signals. The combination of independent component analysis and wavelet transform was used to denoise the signals. The efficacy of the denoising process was evaluated by adding the artificial noise in the clean signal and again denoising using the same process. The selection of the wavelet was crucial to denoise and decomposed the EEG signals. The process of EEG signal denoising was repeated using 109 types of wavelets from daubechies, symlets, coiflets, haar, dmeyer, biorthogonal, and reverse biorthogonal families. The performance of ‗bior3.1‘ of the biorthogonal family outperformed and identified as optimal wavelet for the processes of denoising and decomposition. Thereafter, it was important to identify the most activated brain area in a cognitive task, which demands high cognitive skills. Four levels of MOT task with varying cognitive load were designed. The cognitive load varied in terms of the number of targets from 2 to 5 among the 6 distractors in four levels (L1 to L4), respectively. The performance of the participants was a decline with the cognitive load. The frontal region of the cortex was identified as the most activated area while performing the MOT task. Further, the relationship between alpha, beta, and theta waves with cognitive load wasassessed for individual cognitive capacity. Participants were divided into three groups (high, medium, and low performers) based on d2 test results using the ward method. The increase in theta, decrease in alpha and beta activities was observed with an increase in cognitive load andthe high performer group showed good cognitive capacity. Thereafter, the efficacy of cognitive training was evaluated.Three times the psycho-physiological measurement of the cognitive skills were performed; pre, post, and post2. The pre-measurement was performed before the starting of the cognitive training. Thereafter, the post-measurement was performed at the end of cognitive training. Players need to continuously maintain a high level of cognitive skills. Therefore, to investigate the longevity effect of cognitive training, post2 measurement was performed after the three months of the post measurement.Three groups of participants were selected for the experimentation; active group (players, training group), passive group (players, non-training group), and control group (non-athletes). The psych-physiological measurement was performed before the training. Six psychological tests (Corsi, digit span, two back for working memory and stroop, identification, continuous performance test for attention) were used to test the cognitive skills. EEG signals were also recorded while playing the MOT task. The cognitive skills were examined using EEG sub-frequency bands, alpha, beta, and theta. The power spectral density and partial directed coherence (a measure of brain connectivity) were assessed to evaluate the training efficacy. It was identified that players had better cognitive skills than non-players. Then, cognitive training was given to the active group for four weeks (20 sessions). Post measurement was performed after the completion of training. The comparative analysis of pre and post-measurement showed significant improvement in the cognitive skills of the active group, while no changes observed in other groups.The comparison of the pre and post measurement showed a decrease in theta, increase in alpha and beta activity. Working memory and attention cognitive functions are associated with the enhancement in beta and alpha. It suggested that cognitive training increased cognitive capacity. Also, the synchronization in alpha and beta is associated with the decreasing effect of background noise, the field of view, and several subjects. The desynchronization of theta revealed that the player‘s capacity to accommodate a high cognitive load is increased. The results of psychological tests are in support of the results of physiological measurement. The post2 measurement is performed to evaluate the longevity after the three months. A significant decline is seen in the cognitive skills of the active group. Thus, it was concluded that cognitive training effectively enhanced the cognitive skills and also, reduced the effects of the disturbing factors. The effect of cognitive training is time-limited and declines with time. In the end, four psychological tests (one-beep, two-beep, left-right, and visual search tests) were designed to evaluate the effect of cognitive training on the audio-visual stimuli and visual search field. One-beep and two-beep tests evaluate the cognitive capacity in the audio stimuli, whereas the other tests used the visual stimuli with divided attention. Two groups of participants were selected for the experimentation; active group (training group) and passive group (non-training group) and performed the four cognitive tests. Then, cognitive training was given to the active group (20 sessions) and post-measurement was performed after the training. The active group showed significant changes between the pre and post-measurement, whereas insignificant changes were observed for the passive group. The results indicated that the cognitive training enhanced the cognitive skills and performance in the cognitive tests. It was concluded that cognitive training helped the participants to reduce the effect of audio and visual interference on their performance.
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