Looking beyond the binary: an extended paradigm for focus of attention in human motor performance

Rebecca Gose, Amit Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Focus of attention (FOA) has been shown to affect human motor performance. Research into FOA has mainly posited it as either external or internal to-the-body (EFOA and IFOA, respectively). However, this binary paradigm overlooks the dynamic interactions among the individual, the task, and the environment, which are core to many disciplines, including dance. This paper reviews the comparative effects of EFOA and IFOA on human motor performance. Next, it identifies challenges within this EFOA–IFOA binary paradigm at the conceptual, definitional, and functional levels, which could lead to misinterpretation of research findings thus impeding current understanding of FOA. Building on these challenges and in effort to expand the current paradigm into a non-binary one, it offers an additional FOA category—dynamic interactive FOA—which highlights the dynamic interactions existing between EFOA and IFOA. Mental imagery is then proposed as a suitable approach for separately studying the different FOA subtypes. Lastly, clinical and research applications of a dynamic interactive FOA perspective for a wide range of domains, from motor rehabilitation to sports and dance performance enhancement, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1687-1699
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Dance
  • Dynamic neuro-cognitive imagery
  • Focus of attention
  • Mental imagery
  • Motor performance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Looking beyond the binary: an extended paradigm for focus of attention in human motor performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this