Journal of Cognitive Enhancement

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 281–292 | Cite as

Spatial Contextual Cueing, Assessed in a Computerized Task, Is Not a Limiting Factor for Expert Performance in the Domain of Team Sports or Action Video Game Playing

  • Anne SchmidtEmail author
  • Franziska Geringswald
  • Stefan Pollmann
Original Research


In two reaction time experiments, we investigated if handball and action video game players show improved implicit learning of repeated spatial configurations for efficient search guidance in comparison to a control group without sport or video game proficiency. To this end, we used both a sport-specific pseudo 3-D contextual cueing task and the original contextual cueing paradigm (Chun and Jiang 36, 28-71, 1998). In this visual search paradigm, a target element has to be searched in a distractor-filled display. A typical block of trials consisted of one half of displays that were repeatedly presented in subsequent blocks, while the other half of displays was always randomly generated. In numerous studies with this paradigm, it has been found that search becomes more efficient in repeated displays, even though participants are often unaware of these repetitions (Chun 4, 170-178, 2000). Contextual cueing was present in all groups. Thus, all groups showed incidental learning of repeated displays. Contrary to our hypothesis, handball and action video game players did not differ in the strength of contextual cueing from the control group, although these groups had overall faster search times in the sport-specific displays of experiment 1. To conclude, our data yield no evidence for superior context-learning skills in athletes or action video game players.


Attention Contextual cueing Expertise Team sports Action video game playing 



This work was supported by Florian Baumgartner and Daniel Kottke by helpful statistical advice and discussions.

We would also like to thank the Sportclub Magdeburg for the opportunity to study elite athletes, the coaches for their support, and the athletes for their willingness to participate in the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.Center for Behavioral Brain SciencesOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany

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