Physical Load Affects Perceptual-Cognitive Performance of Skilled Athletes: a Systematic Review

Schapschröer, M.; Lemez, S.; Baker, J.; Schorer, J.
September 2016
Sports Medicine - Open;9/12/2016, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Many researchers have considered the impact of physical exercise on perceptual-cognitive performance. There have also been a substantial number of studies that have examined how perceptual-cognitive skills differ between elite athletes and non-athletes. However, the knowledge on how physical exercise interacts with perceptual-cognitive skill is limited. This systematic review aims to provide detailed information on how athletes' perceptual-cognitive performance is influenced by acute physical exercise load and whether these effects differ between elite athletes and lesser skilled groups. Methods: A systematic review was conducted using different combinations of the keywords physical load, acute, exercise, perception, cognition, perceptual, cognitive, sport, and athlete with the PubMed and SportDiscus databases. Additional articles were found through screening the references of these papers. Articles had to (a) be full journal articles written in English, (b) include an athlete sample, (c) examine acute effects of physical exercise, and (d) measure a perceptual-cognitive task as the dependent variable. Results: Twenty-six articles matched the inclusion criteria. Results suggested the impact of acute physical exercise on perceptual-cognitive performances of athletes depends on the specificity of the induced exercise and perceptual-cognitive task. Additionally, speed and accuracy were influenced differently by physical exercise. Furthermore, skilled athletes seem to be more positively influenced by acute physical exercise than novices. Conclusion: Since many factors influence perceptual-cognitive expertise, future research should be highly precise (e.g., regarding the definition of variables, the intensity of the physical exercise) and specific (e.g., regarding the tasks used, the type of the physical exercise).


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