Brawny athletes are rarely brainy, or so the stereotype goes. But a new
study reports that soccer players actually have superior executive
functions, the brain processes responsible for planning and abstract
thinking. And the more elite the player, the better these functions.
The ability game intelligence, and it’s “very, very fundamental to the
way we make decisions,” said study author Predrag Petrovic, a
neuroscientist at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. “It’s a way of working
with information and making decisions about the environment.”
The researchers measured executive function using a standardized test
called D-KEFS, which assesses skills in problem solving, creativity and
The highest scores went to soccer players from Sweden’s most elite
league, followed by players from a lower division. Nonplayers finished
behind both groups of players.