Team sport expertise shows superior stimulus-driven visual attention and motor inhibition

Fan Wu Meng, Zai Fu Yao, Erik Chihhung Chang, Yi Liang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Previous studies on athletes’ cognitive functions have reported superior performance on tasks measuring attention and sensorimotor abilities. However, how types of sports training shapes cognitive profile remains to be further explored. In this study, we recruited elite athletes specialized in badminton (N = 35, female = 12) and volleyball (N = 29, female = 13), as well as healthy adult controls (N = 27, female = 17) who had not receive any regular sports training. All participants completed cognitive assessments on spatial attention, sensory memory, cognitive flexibility, motor inhibition, and the attention networks. The results showed that athletes generally showed superior performance on selective cognitive domains compared to healthy controls. Specifically, compared to the healthy control, volleyball players showed superior on iconic memory, inhibitory control of action, and attentional alerting, whereas badminton players showed advantages on iconic memory and basic processing speed. Overall, volleyball players outperformed badminton players on those tasks require stimulus-driven visual attention and motor inhibition, likely due to different training modalities and characteristics of specialty that involves even more complex cognitive processes. To conclude, our findings suggest cognitive plasticity may drive by sports training in team/individual sports expertise, manifesting cognitive profile in sport expertise with distinct training modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0217056
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


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