Football players do not show "neural efficiency" in cortical activity related to visuospatial information processing during football scenes: An EEG mapping study: Frontiers in Psychology

C. Del Percio, M. Franzetti, A.J. De Matti, G. Noce, R. Lizio, S. Lopez, A. Soricelli, R. Ferri, M.T. Pascarelli, M. Rizzo, A.I. Triggiani, F. Stocchi, C. Limatola, C. Babiloni

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This study tested the hypothesis of cortical neural efficiency (i.e., reduced brain activation in experts) in the visuospatial information processing related to football (soccer) scenes in football players. Electroencephalographic data were recorded from 56 scalp electrodes in 13 football players and eight matched non-players during the observation of 70 videos with football actions lasting 2.5 s each. During these videos, the central fixation target changed color from red to blue or vice versa. The videos were watched two times. One time, the subjects were asked to estimate the distance between players during each action (FOOTBALL condition, visuospatial). Another time, they had to estimate if the fixation target was colored for a longer time in red or blue color (CONTROL condition, non-visuospatial). The order of the two conditions was pseudo-randomized across the subjects. Cortical activity was estimated as the percent reduction in power of scalp alpha rhythms (about 8-12 Hz) during the videos compared with a pre-video baseline (event-related desynchronization, ERD). In the FOOTBALL condition, a prominent and bilateral parietal alpha ERD (i.e., cortical activation) was greater in the football players than non-players (p <0.05) in contrast with the neural efficiency hypothesis. In the CONTROL condition, no significant alpha ERD difference was observed. No difference in behavioral response time and accuracy was found between the two groups in any condition. In conclusion, a prominent parietal cortical activity related to visuospatial processes during football scenes was greater in the football players over controls in contrast with the neural efficiency hypothesis. © 2019 Del Percio, Franzetti, De Matti, Noce, Lizio, Lopez, Soricelli, Ferri, Pascarelli, Rizzo, Triggiani, Stocchi, Limatola and Babiloni.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFront. Psychol.
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • Alpha rhythms
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Football (soccer) Players
  • Neural efficiency
  • Parietal cortex
  • Situational Awareness
  • Visuospatial information processing

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