Do elite athletes have superior cognitive function?


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Recent literature has demonstrated the usefulness of fitness and computer-based cognitive training as a means to enhance cognition and brain function. However, it is unclear whether the combination of fitness and cognitive training that results from years of extensive sport training also results in superior performance on tests of cognitive processes. In this study we examine, in a quantitative meta-analysis (k = 20), the relationship between expertise in sports and laboratory-based measures of cognition. We found that athletes performed better on measures of processing speed and a category of varied attentional paradigms, and athletes from interceptive sport types and males showed the largest effects. Based on our results, more research should be done with higher-level cognitive tasks, such as tasks of executive function and more varied sub-domains of visual attention. Furthermore, future studies should incorporate more female athletes and use a diverse range of sport types and levels of expertise.

Source: “Are expert athletes ‘expert’ in the cognitive laboratory? A meta-analytic review of cognition and sport expertise” from Applied Cognitive Psychology

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