The influence of cycling intensity upon cognitive response during inferred practice and competition conditions

Michael J. Duncan*, Neil D. Clarke, Martin Cox, Mike Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (SciVal)


    In many sport and exercise situations cognitive performance is required under conditions of high physiological load and high cognitive anxiety. However, few studies have assessed all these components in-situ. The current study sought to address this issue. Fourteen adults (9 males, 5 females) completed 2 incremental exercise trials (perceived competition or perceived practice) in a counterbalanced order. Cognitive performance, via a test of visual discrimination, RPE, heart rate (HR), blood lactate (Bla), and anxiety scores, were recorded at rest, 70% 2max and 90% 2max. Visual discrimination response times were faster at rest compared to 70% (P = 0.001) and 90% 2max (P = 0.002) and at 70% compared to 90% 2max (P = 0.04) in the competitive condition. HR post instructions (P = 0.0001), at 70% (P = 0.001) and 90% 2max (P = 0.0001) was significantly higher in competition compared to practice. RPE was higher in the competitive condition compared to the practice condition (P = 0.023). Cognitive anxiety intensity was significantly higher in the competitive condition, at 70 and 90% 2max (P = 0.001). This study suggests that cognitive performance is more negatively affected when physiological arousal and cognitive anxiety are at their highest. Coaches and athletes should be mindful of such effects and seek to develop skills to offset such responses or to structure training to better represent competition. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sports Sciences on 8 Oct 2016 available online:
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1865-1871
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 2 Oct 2017


    • Visual Discrimination
    • Cognitive Anxiety
    • Performance
    • Catastrophe Model
    • Bioinformational Theory


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