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CULTURAL VARIATION IN RUGBY SKILLS: A PRELIMINARY NEUROANTHROPOLOGICAL REPORT

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Abstract

Cultural differences in sports playing styles may be the result of players possessing diverging cognitive–perceptual strategies, with resulting differences in the underlying neurological correlates of skilled behavior. The chapter describes the preliminary stages of an applied project with national rugby unions to understand how different developmental environments for skill acquisition may effect cognitive variation by making use of “degenerate” neurological structures, or the ability of multiple neurological structures to produce similar outcomes. Neurocognitive differences in skill have implications for talent identification, appropriate training, and the difficulty of capturing skilled action in laboratory settings, which artificially narrow players’ potential to use diverse problem solving strategies.

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