Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Research byte: The role of attentional control (AC) and working memory in sports performance: A review of recent literature

The ever growing body of research re the importance of the construct of attentional control (AC) in all kinds of human performance is, IMHO, one of the most important findings in cognitive psychology during the past few years.  In my opinion, improving AC may be one of the key's to effective brain training/fitness programs.  Also, differences in the AC of individuals has important implications for understanding differences in cognitive functioning.
Available online 10 June 2016
Target Article

Working Memory, Attentional Control, and Expertise in Sports: A Review of Current Literature and Directions for Future Research

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The aim of the present review was to investigate the theoretical framework of working memory as it relates to the control of attention in sport and thereby apply cognitive psychological theory to sports, but also use the sports domain to advance cognitive theory. We first introduce dual-process theories as an overarching framework for attention-related research in sports. Then a central mechanism is highlighted how working memory is involved in the control of attention in sports by reviewing research demonstrating that the activated contents in working memory control the focus of attention. The second part of the paper reviews literature showing that working memory capacity is an important individual difference variable that is predictive of controlling attention in a goal-directed manner and avoiding distraction and interference in sports. Finally, we address the question whether differences in working memory capacity contribute to sport expertise.


  • Dual-process;
  • Working memory;
  • Attention;
  • Sport;
  • Individual differences

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