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Department of Cognitive Science

Cultural variation in elite athletes: Does elite cognitive-perceptual skill always converge?

Greg Downey (
Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University, Sydney


Anthropologists have not participated extensively in the cognitive science synthesis for a host of reasons, including internal conflicts in the discipline and profound reservations about the ways that cultural differences have been modeled in psychology, neuroscience, and other contributors to cognitive science. This paper proposes a skills-based model for culture that overcomes some of the problems inherent in the treatment of culture as shared information. Athletes offer excellent cases studies for how skill acquisition, like enculturation, affects the human nervous system. In addition, cultural differences in playing styles of the same sport, such as distinctive ways of playing rugby, demonstrate how varying solution strategies to similar athletic problems produce distinctive skill profiles.

Citation details for this article:

Downey, G. (2010). Cultural variation in elite athletes: does elite cognitive-perceptual skill always converge? In W. Christensen, E. Schier, and J. Sutton (Eds.), ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (pp. 72-80). Sydney: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science.

DOI: 10.5096/ASCS200912
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