Cognitive function and heart rate variability in open and closed skill sports

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Objectives: The differences in sporting environments between open and closed skill sports impose unique demands on athletes’ cognitive and motor capabilities. Our study aims to investigate and compare cognitive function and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) among individuals involved in different sports, namely basketball, swimming, and a sedentary non-sports group. Materials and methods: The study consisted of three groups, namely basketball players, swimmers, and sedentary individuals, with each group comprising twenty-six participants. HRV was assessed with the help of PowerLab. Cognition was assessed using the Ebbinghaus Memory Procedure Test (EMT), Go/No-Go Task (GNG), Color Stroop task, Trail Making Test (TMT), and Letter Cancellation test (LCT). Results: The results of the Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) analyses indicated that there was significance between the groups. However, no significant differences were observed between swimmers and basketball players in cognitive functions and HRV measures. Overall, the sport group outperformed the sedentary group. Specifically, basketball players and swimmers completed LCT and TMT faster than the sedentary group (p = 0.044 and p < 0.001 for basketball players, p = 0.002 and p = 0.001 for swimmers). Additionally, basketball players took fewer trials in EMT (p = 0.013) and less time (p = 0.026) compared to the sedentary group. Conclusion: The results of the study indicate that sports training, regardless of sport type, positively impacts overall cognitive function. However, no significant differences were observed in cognitive task performance and HRV measures between open and closed skill sport players. These findings suggest that sports can enhance cognitive functions, regardless of the sport played.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2267588
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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