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The effect of expertise on phase transitions and critical fluctuations during interpersonal coordination in rowing.

Research output: Contribution to conference Speech

  • Daniel Eaves
  • Catherine Sangster
  • Iain Spears
Publication date2009
Number of pages0
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventNorth American Society for Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity Conference - Texas, United Kingdom


ConferenceNorth American Society for Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period15/06/09 → …


The visual-spatial aspects of movement have been proposed to dominate inter-limb stability over constraints inherent in the motor system (see Mechsner, et al., 2001). The underlying principles of within-person bimanual movements are also evident during interpersonal coordination (Schmidt et al., 1990). In both studies coordination was an emergent, rather than an enduring property of the visual display. The impact of perceptual familiarity on the stability of interpersonal coordination is little understood within this context. The present study’s aim was to explore the effects of expertise on coordination stability in a dual-person rowing task. Expert (n = 5) and inexperienced (n = 5) participants used a rowing ergometer positioned behind an expert lead rower on a second ergometer. Phasing between the two seat positions was examined continuously across incremental speeds to exhaustion under two phase modes: a typically synchronous rowing pattern and an asynchronous pattern that required the seat movements of the standard rowing pattern to be out of phase by 180 degrees. Correlation analyses between positional data sets for the two rowers revealed experts spontaneously switched from the asynchronous mode to the well-practiced and therefore dominant synchronous mode. This occured at a critical frequency associated with routine training intensity. These transitions did not occur when experts rowed under the more stable synchronous mode. In contrast, inexperienced rowers did not exhibit switching under either condition, wherein coordination remained relatively stable across incremental frequencies. The visual-spatial characteristics of movement and moreover, the level of familiarity with these perceptual attributes influences the stability of interpersonal coordination in rowing.