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Research Reviews

Thinking in Action: Some Insights from Cognitive Sport Psychology

Aidan Moran

The Big Idea

When it comes to research in cognitive psychology, until fairly recently there had been little interest in studying sport-related mentality. In its early history, the typical cognitive psychology researcher was quite comfortable interpreting human mental activity as information processing, as something computer-like. By implication, motor behaviour (the body) was considered to be independent of thinking. The consequence was to reduce motor skills such as sports to a rather uninteresting research status. And which in turn helped to trivialise sport actions and accomplishments.

But truth has a way of frustrating our theories about it. It turns out that in the last 20 or so years, the idea of persons as embodied selves largely erased the contrived dualism in cognitive psychology. It turns out that sensory experience and mental imagery, for example, share similar pathways and neural representations. Consequently, cognitive psychologists are coming around to rediscovering William James’ 1890 original observation that “my thinking is first and last and always for the sake of my doing.” And so the primary thesis of this research review paper is that...

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