Soccer specific working memory task


Domain specific cognitive testing demonstrates that individuals who have expertise in a given area perform better at recalling specific details pertaining to that domain. For example, volleyball players can identify if there is a volleyball in a picture (e.g., Starkes & Allard, 1983) better than non-players and chess players relative to non-players are better at recalling chess pieces on a board (e.g., Chase & Simon, 1973). The purpose of the current experiment was to create a task in which we could differentiate soccer players from non-soccer players using a working memory task and compare it to other measures of working memory (i.e., Corsi Block Test). We hypothesized that soccer players would be better at recalling the number of players on the field and would recall the number of players faster than non-soccer players. In order to determine the sensitivity of the protocol 20 participants (10 varsity soccer; 10 non-soccer players) completed a computerized soccer interception task that also embedded questions about the number of players on the field at random times. Results demonstrated that the soccer players were better at determining how many players were on the field. Furthermore, when the performance on a visuospatial working memory test (the Corsi Block Test) was analyzed, no differences were revealed between groups. The results suggest that soccer players perform better on the computerized soccer-specific working memory task and it is not related to an overall better performance on working memory or how fast they respond (no difference in response times between groups). The next step is to determine if this portable task is sensitive to changes in performance resulting from sport-related concussions. Sport specific cognitive tests may help coaches and players make a more direct connection between performance on test and possible deficits on the field of play.