We investigated the effect of sports activity on physically-disabled individuals using behavioral and electrophysiological techniques. Visual Go/No-go discriminative and simple response task were used. Participants included 17 disabled athletes, 9 from open-skill (wheelchair basketball) and eight from closed-skill (swimming) sports, and 18 healthy non-athletes. Reaction times of disabled athletes were slower than those of healthy non-athletes on both tasks (7% and 13% difference). Intra-individual variation of reaction times, switch cost and number of false alarms were higher in the swimmers but comparable to healthy non-athletes in the basketball group.
Event-related potentials (ERPs) early components P1, N1 and P2 had longer latencies in the disabled. The late P3 component had longer latency and smaller amplitude in the disabled only in the discriminative response task. Differently, the N2 component, which reflected inhibition/execution processing in the discriminative response task, was delayed and reduced in
the swimmer group but was comparable to healthy subjects in the basketball group. Results show that a) ERPs components related to perceptual processing and late components related to executive processing are impaired in disabled subjects; b) open-skill sports such as basketball may partially compensate for executive control impairment by fostering the stability of motor responses and favoring response flexibility.Download the whole article<