Translating Combination Training to Everyday Functioning

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Everyday functioning requires multi-component cognition. It is impossible to find daily tasks with total isolation of a single cognitive function. For example, a football player is performing at their peak physical performance while constantly processing all relevant information while making decisions based on these environmental cues. Let’s say the player is a striker and they are in a counterattack working in a short timeframe under high cognitive demands. The player needs to be able to process the available information into a coherent, mental representation of the possible scenarios they need to act upon. This cognitive task is heavily reliant on the player’s working memory (discussed in our article:  At the same time, the player needs to be aware of their teammates to constantly assess the best course of action in their respective scenario. These scenarios ask for champions league level cognitive demands. Performance in these kinds of tasks require both executive functioning and dual control of motor as well as several other cognitive functions. Additionally, Basak et al. argued that a decline in dual performance can be used as an indicator for neurodegenerative conditions.

The earlier explored topics of cognitive reserve and neuroplasticity are fundamental factors behind preserving and maintaining cognitive functions that would otherwise decline in late adulthood. Additionally, multiple studies are supporting the implementation of cognitive training to improve on different measures of that trained ability, also called near transfer. However, neglecting a cognitively active lifestyle will result in a decline of basic cognitive abilities (e.g., attention, reaction time, etc.) that will limit everyday functioning and complex skill success rates. Hence, investing time and effort in cognitive training does add value to everyday functioning. Significant effects on near transfer are seen in incorporating cognitive training in one’s cognitively active lifestyle, both in healthy aging adults and in mildly cognitively impaired (MCI) individuals, concluded from a meta-analysis of 161 cognitively healthy aging studies and 54 MCI studies.

On top of that, research is supporting that physical training should be complemented with cognitive tasks to see significant improvement in cognitive performance across time. Studies show that combined training potentiates the results in comparison with only one type of training alone. This leads to the hypothesis that each training’s biological and psychological possess their individual mechanisms and relationships between both. Hence, in doing combination training, it needs to include tasks done individually and in interaction with peers with emphasis on decision-making tasks based on the uncertainty of the responses. Research by Raichlen et al. showed synergistic effects in combining physical and cognitive training. Subsequently, improvements in cognitive functioning will be associated with enhanced psychological well-being as well as positive reports made by participants sharing their experiences and outcomes doing the combination training.

Coming back to the football player mentioned at the start. Using the Aristotle Cognitive Training tool will facilitate cognitive tasks that will put the players through a combination training bringing them into environments with equally demanding situations. The tasks within the training will improve one’s attention, working memory, inhibitory control amongst other cognitive abilities. Not only do these abilities get trained for their function, but the stamina and productivity of these abilities get taken care of.

Specifically, working memory gets targeted in the combination training since this ability is necessary to remember the tactics and techniques that should be completely mastered before the start of the match. Additionally, working memory makes the player able to introduce new information to it to improve the decision-making process. Training in this ability helps the players to keep performing even under high stress, pressure, and uncertainty. Besides, improved working memory prevents cognitive decline of the player when being fatigued.

Inhibitory control compliments the multi-component cognition when performing at the peak of human performance. In the counterattack, the strikers get loads of overstimulation due to all external stimuli being imposed on them. Being able to sustain attention and only act logically based on the relevant information can differentiate between good and top-level players. To improve in this area, the player’s situational awareness needs to be sufficient to process all necessary information before acting on it. Coming back to the first sentence of this article, multi-component cognition is needed to improve total functioning.

Contact us to learn more about the specific applications of the Aristotle Cognitive Training tool to have your teams perform at their best under high stress, pressure, and uncertainty.


  • Basak, C., Qin, S., & O’Connell, M. A. (2020). Differential effects of cognitive training modules in healthy aging and mild cognitive impairment: A comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychology and aging35(2), 220.
  • Brehmer, Y., Westerberg, H., & Bäckman, L. (2012). Working-memory training in younger and older adults: training gains, transfer, and maintenance. Frontiers in human neuroscience6, 63.
  • Fabre, C., Chamari, K., Mucci, P., Masse-Biron, J., & Prefaut, C. (2002). Improvement of cognitive function by mental and/or individualized aerobic training in healthy elderly subjects. International journal of sports medicine23(06), 415-421.
  • Karbach, J., & Verhaeghen, P. (2014). Making working memory work: a meta-analysis of executive-control and working memory training in older adults. Psychological science25(11), 2027-2037.
  • Párraga-Montilla, J. A., Aibar-Almazán, A., Cabrera-Linares, J. C., Lozano-Aguilera, E., Serrano Huete, V., Escarabajal Arrieta, M. D., & Latorre-Román, P. Á. (2021). A Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol to Test the Efficacy of a Dual-Task Multicomponent Exercise Program vs. a Simple Program on Cognitive and Fitness Performance in Elderly People. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(12), 6507.
  • Raichlen, D. A., Bharadwaj, P. K., Nguyen, L. A., Franchetti, M. K., Zigman, E. K., Solorio, A. R., & Alexander, G. E. (2020). Effects of simultaneous cognitive and aerobic exercise training on dual-task walking performance in healthy older adults: results from a pilot randomized controlled trial. BMC geriatrics20(1), 1-10.
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Marcello Sala

  • Business Innovation Manager & Content Manager
  • Current Study: MSc Innovation Management – TU/e

During recent years, I became more aware that a vast majority of technological advancements are not put to their full use in the current society. Some reasons for this are the fear of change that a lot of people experience, the lack of knowledge and awareness of the newest applications and because the existing infrastructure cannot keep up with the speed of technological innovation. Therefore, my goal is to inform people about the newest possibilities of the technology of this time and the added value these advancements can have to their daily life by making seemingly complicated technologies easy to use and understand for everyone. This is also why I decided to join Aristotle. I believe that there is still a lot of ground to cover in cognitive training and that we as Aristotle can make a difference.

Dirk Aarts

  • UX/UI Manager & Assistant Software Developer
  • Current Study: MSc Human-Technology Interaction – TU/e

I have a background in Automotive Engineering at Fontys and after completing the pre-master at the start of last year, I started the master. Due to the current global pandemic, the international semester had been cancelled. As an alternative, I knew I wanted to do something pro-active and work on a practical project instead of following more theoretical courses, and the TU/e Innovation Space project could offer just that. At Aristotle I can apply and broaden my knowledge of cognition, combined with a diverse multidisciplinary team there is a lot for me to learn! Together with Aristotle, I believe we can explore and create effective cognitive training tools and lift athletes to the next level both personally and professionally.

Antonios Mantzaris

  • Data Scientist & Software Developer
  • Current Study: MSc Data Science – EIT Digital Master School

I have the luck to study in two of the top universities in Europe, TU/e in Eindhoven and KTH in Stockholm and also get a minor in Entrepreneurship besides the Data Science track. I would describe myself as analytical, organizing and pragmatic. I joined Aristotle to get out of my comfort zone, develop my personal skills in social and technical aspects but also implement my knowledge attained from my studies so far in a real-life problem, in realistic conditions. I believe we can really make an impact with innovative ideas and tools but also highlight the advantages of cognitive training in football or in general.