Not scene learning, but attentional processing is superior in team sport athletes and action video game players

  • Anne Schmidt
  • Franziska Geringswald
  • Fariba Sharifian
  • Stefan PollmannEmail author
Original Article


We tested if high-level athletes or action video game players have superior context learning skills. Incidental context learning was tested in a spatial contextual cueing paradigm. We found comparable contextual cueing of visual search in repeated displays in high-level amateur handball players, dedicated action video game players and normal controls. In contrast, both handball players and action video game players showed faster search than controls, measured as search time per display item, independent of display repetition. Thus, our data do not indicate superior context learning skills in athletes or action video game players. Rather, both groups showed more efficient visual search in abstract displays that were not related to sport-specific situations.



This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (PO548/14-1 and SFB779-A4).

Author contributions

AS designed the study, wrote the experimental code, acquired and analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. FG wrote the experimental code and analyzed the data. FS analyzed the data. SP designed the study and wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Human and animal rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.Transfer and Entrepreneur CentreOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany
  3. 3.Center for Behavioral Brain SciencesMagdeburgGermany

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