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Psych testing may predict soccer success

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KAROLINSKA, Sweden, April 5 (UPI) -- Psychological testing could predict the success of soccer players by measuring a cognitive phenomenon called "executive functions," European researchers say.

Scientists at Sweden's Karolinska Institute say they may have found the psychological key to what has previously been described as "game intelligence" in successful soccer players.

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Game intelligence has been described as the ability to "read" the play of the game, to be always in the right place at the right time, and to steal goals.

Cognitive scientists say executive functions encompass the ability to be immediately creative, to be able to see new solutions to problems, to change tactics rapidly and to revise previous behavior that has proved not to work.

"Our brains have specific systems that process information in just this manner, and we have validated methods within cognitive research to measure how well the executive functions work in an individual," researcher Predrag Petrovic in the institute's department of clinical neuroscience reported.

In tests of certain executive functions in a total of 57 elite footballers, the researchers found the soccer players performed much better than the general population in tests of executive functions.

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"We can imagine a situation in which cognitive tests of this type become a tool to develop new, successful football players," psychologist Torbjorn Vestberg, a member of the research group, said.

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