Neurocognitive Capabilities and Physiological Responses to Cognitive Stress as well as General Health and Fitness Measurements in Competitive Gamers versus Non-Gamers

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2022


Health and Sport Science


Competitive video gaming, also known as eSports, is a growing industry. As interest in eSports has grown, so has the interest in those who participate, particularly competitive eSport athletes and their cognitive and physiological characteristics. Here, we characterize potential cognitive and physiological differences among competitive gamers and non-gamers while accounting for fitness levels. Twenty-four total participants were studied [n=12 in gamers (10M, 2F, play >5 hrs/wk) and non-gamers (10M, 2F)]. The six different cognitive tests used were to measure various neurocognitive components that have previously been shown to be enhanced in gamers: the Stroop Test (cognitive set shifting, inhibitory control, and set twitching), Modified Card Sorting Test (problem solving and abstract thinking), Finger Tapping Test (psychomotor speed), Trail Making Test (speeded visual search and tracking), Spatial Processing Task (spatial recognition), and Iowa Gambling Test (risky decision making) were administered via a computer (Millisecond). After completing cognitive testing, each subject’s health-related fitness components (muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and estimated aerobic capacity) and skill-related fitness components (power, balance, hand-eye coordination) were measured. Video gamers had average scores for the Finger Tapping Test (70.1±10.4) that were significantly higher than the non-gamers (61.2±6.4; p=0.03). Other cognitive tests were similar between the two groups, as were fitness components (as intended). The systemic physiological responses to the cognitive testing were minimal (and did not differ between the two groups. Thus, when physical activity is accounted for, competitive gamers and non-gamers perform similarly in most cognitive tasks and have similar physiological responses to this stress.


eSports, video games, cognitive, reaction time


Cognitive Science | Education | Sports Sciences


Presentation: 10 a.m. Friday, April 22, 2022

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