Recency and frequency of soccer heading interact to decrease neurocognitive performance

Appl Neuropsychol. 2003;10(1):31-41. doi: 10.1207/S15324826AN1001_5.


This study investigated the role of heading recency interacting with heading frequency in determining neuropsychological deficits associated with heading the ball during soccer play. Sixty-four high-ability male soccer players ages 16 to 34 completed the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), the Trailmaking Test, the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT), the Facial Recognition Test, the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure, and the Shipley Scales. Heading recency interacted with heading frequency, such that players with the highest self-reported estimates of heading who also experienced heading within the previous 7 days scored significantly lower on CVLT, Shipley, Trailmaking, and PASAT than other combinations of heading and recency. Although strict ball-to-head contacts could not be isolated as sufficient to cause this interaction, these results increase the weight of evidence that heading behavior is problematic for causing at least transient cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Cognition*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Soccer / injuries*