The Racer's Mind—How Core Perceptual-Cognitive Expertise Is Reflected in Deliberate Practice Procedures in Professional Motorsport

Otto Lappi
2018 Frontiers in Psychology  
The exceptional performance of elite practitioners in domains like sports or chess is not a reflection of just exceptional general cognitive ability or innate sensorimotor superiority. Decades of research on expert performance has consistently shown that experts in all fields go to extraordinary lengths to acquire their perceptual-cognitive and motor abilities. Deliberate Practice (DP) refers to special (sub)tasks that are designed to give immediate and accurate feedback and performed
more » ... ly with the explicit goal of improving performance. DP is generally agreed to be one of the key ingredients in acquisition of expertise (not necessarily the only one). Analyzing in detail the specific aspects of performance targeted by DP procedures may shed light on the underlying cognitive processes that support expert performance. Document analysis of professional coaching literature is one knowledge elicitation method that can be used in the early phases of inquiry to glean domain information about the skills experts in a field are required to develop. In this study this approach is applied to the domain of motor racing -specifically the perceptual-cognitive expertise enabling high-speed curve negotiation. A systematic review procedure is used to establish a corpus of texts covering the entire 60 years of professional motorsport textbooks. Descriptions of specific training procedures (that can be unambiguously interpreted as DP procedures) are extracted, and then analyzed within the hierarchical task analysis framework driver modeling. Hypotheses about the underlying cognitive processes are developed on the basis of this material. In the traditional psychological literature, steering and longitudinal control are typically considered "simple" reactive tracking tasks (model-free feedback control). The present findings suggest that-as in other forms expertise-expert level driving skill is in fact dependent on vast body of knowledge, and driven by top-down information. The knowledge elicitation in this study represents a first step toward a deeper psychological understanding of the complex cognitive underpinnings of expert performance in this domain.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01294 pmid:30150949 pmcid:PMC6099114 fatcat:dbkvnqlwmrftroxhizbhwmfvty