The Difference of Sport-related Cognitive Function according to Athletic Status and Type of Sport
- Cognitive function has been recently accepted to be an essential factor along with physiological, physical, technical, and psychological factors for peak performance in sports. The present dissertation consists of two studies; study 1: the role of cognitive function in sports: a systematic review; and study 2: the difference of cognitive ability according to athletic status and type of sport.
Study 1: the purpose of the primary research was to systematically determine the existing evidence on the topics of cognition and sports performance. This systematic review was conducted following the guideline of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). Relevant studies were initially discovered via electronic sources, namely PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, Wiley Online Library, and Taylor & Francis Online databases. Additional searches were performed using Google scholar and the reference lists of relevant articles. The final search was completed on April 2018. The inclusion criteria were English written studies, healthy participants who were 8-35 years old, and study investigating cognitive function corresponding to athletic status or sport expertise or sport type. Of 192 initially retrieval articles, thirty-seven eligible studies meet inclusion criteria were finally included. In the process of data extraction, relevant information was extracted including first author, year of publication, participants’ sample size, gender, age, sports experience, athletic status, sport expertise, type of sport, cognitive measurement, and result. The findings revealed the association between various aspects of cognitive function and athletic status, sports expertise, talented athlete, and sport type. Exceptional sports players were superior to sub-elite, amateur player, and ordinary people on several cognitive abilities utilizing measurements of simple and choice reaction time, go/no-go reaction time test, design fluency test, switching task, stop-signal task, flanker test, mental rotation test, tower test, stroop test, attention network test, trail making test, and digit span forward & backward test. Moreover, young talented athletes outperformed sub-talented and non-talented youth players on executive functioning. With regard to types of sport, there were significant effects on cognitive functions indicating; 1) strategic sport athletes had superior executive controls than those from interceptive sports, static sports, and non-athletes; 2) open skill athletes displayed better on inhibition, visual-spatial skills, and cognitive flexibility than closed skill athletes and non-athletes; 3) externally-paced players exhibited higher planning and problem-solving abilities in comparison to self-paced players and non-athletes; 4) self-paced athletes did more effective on response inhibition than externally-paced athletes and non-athletes. Based on preliminary results, the cognitive functions corresponding to peak performance in sports could be determined as executive function (inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility), information processing (reaction time and processing speed), and spatial skill (mental rotation ability). Superior performance seems to be associated with cognitive abilities which could be utilized to predict the athletic achievements. However, the differences in multiple cognitive functions depending upon type of sport and athletic skill level were reported, but the components of cognitive function critical to each sports type are not fully clarified. Therefore, further investigation is needed to be conducted proving the sport-related cognitive functions distinguished depending upon athletic status and type of sport.
Study 2 is a cross-sectional study to determine the sport-related cognitive function across athletic status (athlete and non-athlete) and type of sport (interceptive, static, and strategic sports). There were 120 male participants including 30 boxers (interceptive sport), 30 shooters (static sport), 30 soccer players (strategic sport), and 30 non-athletes who were young adults (age range 20-30 years). According to the theoretical model of sport-related cognitive functions in study 1, the cognitive performances were examined employing five computerized tests including simple (SRT) and choice reaction time (CRT) test, flanker test (FKT), trail making test (TMT), mental rotation test (MRT), and one paper-pencil test, which is design fluency test (DFT). The results show that athletes outperformed non-athletes on simple and choice reaction time test, trail making test (TMT-A), and design fluency test, suggesting athletes were superior in speed of cognitive processing and multiple executive aspects consisting action inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and creativity. Regarding sports disciplines, interceptive and static sports athletes yielded significantly faster responding on simple reaction time as compared to strategic sport athletes and non-athletes. The shorter reaction time of choice reaction time test were observed in three sport types athletes in comparison to non-athletes, and only interceptive sport athletes did statistically higher in accuracy rate of choice reaction time test. The result of trail making test, as compared to non-athlete group, static sport athletes did significantly faster on trail making test - part A. There was significant effect of sport type on mental rotation test, indicating interceptive athletes performed better than static sport and strategic sport players, whereas non-athletes were found to be superior to strategic sport athletes. Concerning design fluency test, athletes from strategic sport could create more total unique figures than static sport athletes and non-athletes, and the higher total unique figures was also observed in interceptive sport athletes relative to non-athletes. However, no significant difference of flanker test was reported for athletic status and type of sport.
The results obtained in this study indicated that the superior cognitive abilities (i.e., information processing and executive function) were associated with participation in competitive sport training regardless of sports typology. The sport type differences were related to specific cognitive components, interceptive sport favoring on cognitive processing speed and visual-spatial skills, whereas executive functions (i.e., working memory and cognitive flexibility) could be benefited from the extensive training of strategic sport. Furthermore, visual processing speed may be essential for sports performances in the static sport such as shooting.
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- athletic status; type of sport; cognitive function; executive function; information processing; mental rotation ability
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