Personal research profile

Research profile

As a trained psychologist (University of Cologne and Konstanz), I was always fascinated by the influence of cognition on sports performance, especially in children at a young age. In my research, I am now focusing on how cognitive and motor processes interact and develop during childhood, how they change with experience, and whether they can contribute to and predict future (sports) expertise. I do this by taking a developmental embodied-cognition perspective on complex actions, such as in sports (Musculus & Raab, 2022; Musculus et al., 2021).

 

In my current work, I want to better understand 1) the interplay of sport-specific and general cognitive processes and the relation to expertise in soccer (e.g., Kalén, Bisagno, Musculus et al., 2021; Heisler, Lobinger, & Musculus, 2023) as well as other Olympic sports (i.e., in:prove project) and 2) the development and interplay of cognitive and motor processes in climbing (DFG project "Climbing to yourself"; LSB project "KleVer"), esports, and table tennis. Therefore, I conduct experiments, cross-sectional age comparisons, longitudinal, and training studies combining cognitive and motor (Vicon) measures. 

 

My work has implications for training (i.e., individualized, developmentally tailored) as well as talent identification and development programs in elite sports; for motor- and cognitive training programs in health (i.e., physical activity) and education (i.e., primary schools, secondary schools). 

 

Projects and supervision

As a post-doctoral researcher, I am also actively involved in PhD supervision:

Together with Hanna de Haan, we work on cognitive performance in elite female sports. In her PhD work, Hanna aims to better understand the relation between the female menstrual cycle, cognitive performance, and sports performance. Intending to tailor training to the individual needs of female athletes, we conduct quasi-experimental studies targeting the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying the cognition-performance link.

 

Together with Sinikka Heisler, we work on an applied research project focusing on the development of perceptual-cognitive processes in youth soccer players. In her PhD project, Sinikka aims to inform theory and practice by displaying the domain-specificity and interrelatedness of perceptual-cognitive processes (in soccer). Embedded in talent identification and development, we are conducting both qualitative and quantitative studies capturing expert youth coaches' knowledge and understanding of sport-specific perceptual-cognitive processes. 

 

Together with Patricia Grove, we work on motor-cognitive performance and the detrimental role of reinvestment when performing under pressure. In her PhD work, Patricia aims to investigate reinvestment-related performance decrements under pressure and develop an intervention against the negative consequences of this phenomenon. We are conducting a line of experimental studies with healthy young capturing their motor-cognitive decision-making processes in a table tennis task.

 

Together with Ismael Pedraza-Ramirez, we work on motor-cognitive performance in competitive gaming, better known as electronic sports (esports). In his PhD, Isma aims to better understand motor-cognitive decision-making processes in the dynamic and highly time-constrained situations players face in esports (i.e., League of Legends; LoL). From an ecological perspective, we are further interested in the effects of environmental constraints on motor-cognitive processes and the in-game performance of LoL players. In the PhD, we combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. By interviewing expert players and coaches, we investigated what types of decisions are relevant in esports and how making and executing decisions are impacted by environmental constraints. This study informed our quantitative experimental study, in which we manipulated time and opponent pressure to test the respective effects on motor-cognitive decision-making processes in esports-specific video-based tasks.

Method expertise

Designs: experiments, training studies, learning studies, cohort-lognitudional studies

Approaches: cognitive test development and testing, motor testing, self-report questionnaires development (construction, validation)

Data: response and reaction times, movement kinematics (Vicon), psychophysiological data (e.g., HRV, microbiome composition), objective fitness data (e.g., accelerometer, VO²max)

Teaching profile

Motor learning and development (lecture)

Sportpsychology (seminars, further education: university, asp curriculum)

  • Sport psychology theory and methods
  • Sport psychological training

Health psychology (seminar)

  • Why good intentions are not enough: models and interventions for health behavior change

Research methods (seminars, tutorials)

  • Psychological diagnostics and interventions in research settings
  • Research project (Expra)
  • Statistics

Managing diversity:

  • Performing sport with special needs

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