Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

Advanced Search

Enhanced visual attention in university hockey players

Clark, Kait; Maddocks, Michael


Profile Image

Dr Kait Clark
Lecturer in Psychology (Cognitive and Neuro)

Michael Maddocks


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.

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Start Date May 1, 2018
Publication Date Sep 1, 2018
Electronic ISSN 1534-7362
Publisher Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 10
APA6 Citation Clark, K., & Maddocks, M. (2018). Enhanced visual attention in university hockey players. Journal of Vision, 18(10),
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the abstract of presentation delivered at the above conference.