Perceptual Cognitive Function Correlates With Reaction Time In
Perceptual Cognitive Function Correlates With Reaction Time In
Gabriel J. Pruna, William P. McCormack, Tyler C. Scanlon, Adam J. Wells, Kyle S. Beyer, Adam R. Jajtner, Jeremy R. Townsend, Maren S. Fragala, Jay R. Hoffman, FACSM, Jeffrey R. Stout, FACSM
Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
A soccer player’s ability to quickly react following the processing and
integration of task-relevant cues may be a key determinant of on-field
success. Perceptual cognitive function evaluates an athlete’s situational
awareness. However, it is unknown how perceptual cognitive function
relates to reaction time in collegiate female soccer players. PURPOSE: To
examine the relationship between perceptual cognitive function (CF) and
visuomotor reaction time of the upper (RTU) and lower extremities (RTL).
METHODS: Thirty female NCAA division I soccer players (19.4 ± 1.1 y;
1.71 ± .07 m; 64.8 ± 7.1 kg) participated in a preseason performance
assessment. CF was assessed as a threshold speed using a multiple
object tracking device within a three-dimensional environment where a
higher threshold speed indicates higher CF. RTU was assessed using a
visuomotor training device. Fastest times for visual (V) and motor (M)
reaction time were scored. RTL was assessed as number of successful
foot strikes to visual stimuli during a 20-s lower body reaction test.
Pearson product moment coefficients were computed to assess the
relationship between CF, V, M, and RTL. RESULTS: Inverse correlations
were found between CF and V (r= -0.398, p= 0.029) and CF and M (r= 0.413, p= 0.023) in RTU indicating the greater the CF threshold, the faster
the reaction time. A positive correlation was found between CF and RTL
hits (r= 0.390, p= 0.037) indicating the greater the CF threshold, the higher
the score in the RTL. CONCLUSION: Results indicate that cognitive
function is positively correlated with faster upper and lower body reaction
time in female collegiate soccer players. Thus, athletes with higher
cognitive function may also have faster reaction times that translate to
increased performance on the field. An athlete’s ability to more quickly
process information and react to it may provide a competitive advantage
Hand-eye and hand-foot coordination are very different for a soccer player
and a non-athlete; a soccer player being more adept . Perceptual
cognitive function evaluates an athlete’s situational awareness . During
the course of a soccer game, there are many cues a player must adhere to.
Reaction time is one of those elements. A player has many objects to track
as well like the ball, the opposing players and even the referees. This leads
to the use of their cognitive function skills. However, it is unknown how
perceptual cognitive function relates to reaction time in collegiate female
soccer players. To our knowledge, there has not been any previous research
on the relationship between cognitive function and reaction time in female
collegiate soccer players.
Thirty female NCAA division I soccer players (19.4 ± 1.1 y; 1.71 ± .07 m;
64.8 ± 7.1 kg) participated in a preseason performance assessment. All
subjects came in to the UCF Human Performance Lab for the cognitive
function and visuomotor tests. The order of testing was Dynavision, Quick
Board then the NeuroTracker.
The Dynavision is a light board containing 64
lights placed in five concentric circles. One of
the lights illuminates and the athlete will place
their dominant hand on the light. The reaction
test consisted of using five horizontal lights to
the left of the center ring. Upon start of the test,
any of the five lights will illuminate and the
subject has to move the hand from the starting
position, hit the illuminated light, and then
return to the starting position. The full reaction
test consisted of 10 trials. The time it takes for
the athlete to take their hand off the first light is
considered the visual reaction time. The time it
takes for the athlete to hit the other light is
considered the motor reaction time.
The Quick Board is a reaction time test
using the lower extremities. The Quick
Board consists of a touch board on the floor
with five yellow dots. A light display with
dots that correspond to the touch board is
positioned at eye level in front of the
athlete. The test is 20 seconds in duration
and the athlete has to touch the yellow dot
with their feet that corresponds to the light
on the display. The score (hits) is the
number touched over the 20 seconds.
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between
preseason perceptual cognitive function (CF) and visuomotor reaction time
of the upper (RTU) and lower extremities (RTL) in female collegiate soccer
Representative image of the NeuroTracker
cognitive function test.
Preseason Test Results
• Results show that the higher the
cognitive function test, the faster the
reaction time in the athletes. Even
though the slowest and average
times did not differ, the fastest times
in both the visual and motor reaction
times were lower.
• The higher the score in the cognitive
function test, the higher the results in
the reaction test of the lower
• The correlation between cognitive
function and reaction time could be
explained in part by the multiple
tracking skills help improve being
able to react to only one object.
Image of the Quick Board
reaction test. Light display
(top). Touch board (bottom).
This is a three-dimensional cognitive function test. The test consists of
twenty, eight second trials.
If all four balls were picked correctly, then the speed of the balls increases
the next trial. If picked incorrectly, then the speeds of the balls will slow down
during the next trial. At the end of the twenty trials, the soccer player receives
a unitless threshold speed score.
Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to analyze the values taken from
the baseline testing. SPSS was used for all data analysis. An alpha level of p
≤ 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance.
There was a significant inverse correlation between the NeuroTracker
Threshold (NT) and fastest visual reaction time (V) (r= -0.398, p= 0.029, p≤
0.05). This means that the higher the threshold, the faster the visual reaction
time (Figure 1). There was a significant inverse correlation (r= -0.413, p=
0.023, p≤ 0.05) which means the higher the NT, reduced M was shown
(Figure 2). A significant positive correlation was found between NT and Quick
Board Hits (QB) (r= 0.390, p= 0.037, p≤ 0.05). The higher the NT, the more
QB hits value increased (Figure 3).
Image of the Dynavision
reaction test light board.
The soccer player is seated seven
feet away from the screen. Eight
yellow balls will appear on the
screen. Four of the balls will
change to white for two seconds.
The balls return to yellow and
they begin to move. These white
balls are the four objects that the
subject will track.
Once all of the balls stop, numbers 1 through 8 will appear on the balls. The
soccer player reports the numbers for the balls that were tracked.
If the correlations relate to on field success, then cognitive function training
could give a soccer player a competitive advantage during the course of a
game. If a player were to train regularly on the NeuroTracker as well as the
normal resistance training program, their reaction time could be improved.
This could lead to an advantage on the field because the reaction time to the
ball or opponents would give them an edge.
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