Does working memory training improve the performance in professional football players?

Institution: Maastricht University

Investigator(s): Professor Rudolph Ponds, Dr. D. In de Braek, K. Deckers

Program: Cogmed RM

Background & Aim: Many of the cognitive functions which neuropsychologists refer to as executive functioning (EF) are recently recognized as predictors of success in top-soccer players (Vestberg et al., 2012). Working memory (WM) is one of the most important aspects of EF. EF includes abilities of goal formation, planning, carrying out goal-directed plans, and effective performance (Lezak, 2004). An excellent football player could be characterized by excellent cognitive functions, such as spatial attention, divided attention, and WM. The player must be able to quickly adapt, change strategy, and inhibit responses in the ongoing, complex, and quickly changing stream of information during the soccer match. Many of these abilities are referred to as “game intelligence” in sports (Vestberg et al., 2012). The aim of the current project is to determine whether Cogmed improves performance on trained and non-trained WM tasks, executive function outcomes, and measures of everyday cognitive functioning. Further, this research in intended to elucidate whether Cogmed training leads to better soccer performance including more goals, assists, and decision making on the field.

Population & Sample Size: N = 24 typically functioning male adults, ages 20 – 30 years

Design: Randomized, Waitlist Controlled, Test-retest, 3 Month Follow Up