Infrared thermography application to rate emotional states in sports

PhD I.S. Kozhevnikova1
PhD, Associate Professor M.N. Pankov1
PhD, Associate Professor L.F. Startseva2
1Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M.V. Lomonosov, Arkhangelsk
2State Institute of Drugs and Good Practices, Moscow

Keywords: athletes, infrared thermography, mental and emotional control.

Introduction. Sporting activities can be considered as extreme load consuming not only physical, but also psychoemotional resources of athletes [2, 5]. Only maximal mobilization of physiological and mental resources of individual can  lead to outstanding  achievements in sports. Many authors show that effective performance in sporting activity depends on the psychoemotional state of participants [3, 4]. In this context, there is an actual problem of estimating athlete’s psychoemotional state not only using traditional methods based on subjective assessment, but also more reliable instrumental methods. Infrared thermography and new methods of thermal images analysis meet the criteria as a reliable measurement tool.  It is objective, non-contact and safe express-method, which allows capturing human body temperature distribution.

Methods and study management. The room for experiment conformed to conditions for infrared photography. We used infrared camera NEC TH9100 with sensitivity 0,03°C and range 8-14 mm. Twenty-one young men and ladies at the ages from 19 to 26 participated in the research. All examinees were the third-year students of sport department of higher education institute> all of them had good academic progress and good results in training and competitive activities. We have received the permit of ethic committee and the consent of every person to participate in the experiment. We used the pictures from the standard database of realistic pictures “International Affective Picture System” (IAPS) [6, 8], adapted on Russian selection [1]. We selected 180 pictures of the different  valence: neutral, negative (eliciting negative emotions) and positive (eliciting positive emotions). The use agreement of stimulus material of  IAPS doesn’t allow using pictures from the database in publications. On the first day of the study the pictures sequence from IAPS database (60 pictures eliciting neutral emotions, and 60 pictures eliciting positive emotions) was shown to every participant. On the second day of study 60 pictures eliciting neutral emotions and 60 pictures triggering negative emotions were shown to the participants. Display period of the slide was equal to 5 s; the black screen was demonstrated to participants between the slides for 3 s. After every picture sequence the participants completed the questionnaire, which measured the emotional state. The series of manually selected thermograms was used for analysis. The picture characteristics were calculated in special software developed using C#. The statistical software pack SPSS was used for data analysis.

Results and discussion. 84 thermograms (4 pictures from the series of each examinee) were manually selected for database. According to anatomic reference points the regions of forehead, eyes, nose and mouth were manually selected in every picture. Gray-level co-occurrence matrices were constructed in the special software coded in C# [7]. The compared parameters were: average color intensity, standard deviation, average brightness, coefficients of excess and asymmetry, energy, entropy, contrast and homogeneity. After statistical analysis of the above-mentioned parameters we unraveled the significant differences in the nasal region between the persons in positive and negative emotional state.

Table 1. Comparison of texture features image in positive (PES) and negative (NES) emotional state


PES Ме (Q1-Q3)

NES Ме (Q1-Q3)


Mean intensity



Р= 0,002

Standard deviation

17,20 (7,59-18,75)

10,31 (6,77- 21,91)

Р= 0,048


0,26 (0,11-0,52)

0,11 (-0,46 -,42)

Р= 0,001


2,31 (2,02-2,49)

2,41 (2,08- 2,97)

Р= 0,001


0,005 (0,003 - 0,008)

0,005 (0,004 - ,011)

Р= 0,001


5,82 (5,27 - 6,04)

5,58 (5,03 - 6,01)

Р= 0,001


19,55 (9,89 - 27,02)

9,32 (6,45 - 36,07)

Р= 0,943


0,34 ( 0,31 - 0,41)

0,40 ( 0,30 - 0,44)

Р= 0,001

According to received data, we can conclude that the significant differences of the parameters of textural features of the image indicate the different temperature patterns in the positive and negative emotional states, and show the laws of temperature changes in the nasal region of the examinees in dependence of their psychoemotional state.

Conclusion. According to our data, temperature rise in the nasal region of the infrared image can indicate the negative emotional state of the athlete, and this will negatively affect his or her performance in sporting activity. Psychological factors play the significant role in the realization of sportsman’s potential. Highly-precise and objective assessment of sportsman’s psychoemotional state in real-time using digital infrared thermography will be useful for optimization of training activity and successful competitive performances at different levels.


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Competitions and sports are thought of as extreme human activity, requiring serious mobilization of individual’s physical and mental resources.   Outstanding performance in sporting activities depends largely on athlete’s psychoemotional state. In this context, there is an actual problem of the reliable and unbiased evaluation of athlete’s psychoemotional  state using  not only subjective assessment, but also instrumental methods. One of new perspective methods is the digital infrared thermography. Twenty-one young men and ladies at the ages from 19 to 26, who have been actively involved in sporting and competitive activities not less than three years, participated in our research. We obtained thermal images of examinees in positive and negative emotional states. For statistical analysis we used the statistics of the second order based on gray-level co-occurrence matrices. We compared average color intensity, standard deviation, average brightness, coefficients of excess and asymmetry, energy and entropy, contrast and homogeneity. The reliable differences in the region of noses of the examinees with negative and positive emotional reactions were detected in result of statistical analysis.