Using Think Aloud to Investigate the Relationships Between Cognition, Psychophysiology, and Self-Paced Cycling Time-Trial Performance:

A Methodological Examination



attention, cognition, cycling, endurance, pacing, performance, think aloud, thoughts


Think aloud (TA) has been used to capture cyclist’s thought processes during time-trial performance, however, the feasibility of using TA in such settings has not been empirically investigated. Therefore, this research aimed to investigate the impact of TA on cycling time-trial performance (i.e., reactivity). This research also sought to investigate the associations between thought processes, cognition, and psychophysiology to better understand the psychology of pacing behaviour. Eight trained cyclists and eight untrained participants completed a 16 km baseline, No TA, and TA cycling time-trial. Perceived exertion and affect were measured during, and cognitive functioning (i.e., flanker task) before and after trials. No difference in finish time was found between the TA and No TA conditions, suggesting that TA does not adversely affect endurance performance. However, flanker task performance was slower after the TA versus No TA time-trial, but not significantly. Interoceptive and self-regulatory verbalizations increased, whilst distraction-related verbalizations decreased as the time-trial progressed. This possibly reflects an external-to-internal shift in attention and subsequent self-regulatory efforts. This is reinforced by greater distraction-related verbalizations in a positive versus negative affective state. Power output verbalizations were significantly higher for trained cyclists versus their untrained counterparts. Methodological, theoretical, and applied implications are discussed.


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