September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Enhanced visual attention in university hockey players
Author Affiliations
  • Kait Clark
    Department of Health and Social Sciences, University of the West of EnglandSchool of Psychology, Cardiff University
  • Michael Maddocks
    School of Psychology, Cardiff University
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 1120. doi:10.1167/18.10.1120
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      Kait Clark, Michael Maddocks; Enhanced visual attention in university hockey players. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1120. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1120.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Elite athletes exhibit enhanced cognitive abilities related to sport, and athletes' perceptual-cognitive expertise may also transfer to computer-based cognitive tasks in the laboratory (see Voss et al., 2010 for a meta-analysis). The research in this area, however, is notoriously underpowered, often relying upon small sample sizes and producing results that fail to meet statistical significance. One recent study attempted to overcome these limitations by testing a large number of volleyball players on a range of cognitive tasks (Alves et al., 2013), but only small effects were observed, and the tasks employed did not sample the full range of visual-attentional skills. Because athletic training protocols can potentially enhance some aspects of attention but not others (e.g., Appelbaum et al., 2011), we aimed to assess whether superior performance among athletes would be observed when tested on a wider range of perceptual and attention skills. We conducted a comprehensive battery of computer-based visual tasks and compared performance between Cardiff University hockey players and non-athlete student controls. Our measures allowed for a broad assessment of a range of attentional and perceptual skills, including selective attention (flanker compatibility task), sustained dynamic attention (multiple-object tracking task), and spatial distribution of attention (useful field of view task). We found that hockey players demonstrated enhanced performance in measures of selective attention and in identifying transient stimuli at central fixation. Importantly, these perceptual enhancements are apparent after controlling for potential group differences in motivation and strategy. Our results provide novel insight into the potential transferability of athletic training to perceptual skills and have implications for generalised enhancements in cognitive performance.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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