Geplaatst: 8 Mar, 2023

Messi & Marta – Do Women Football Stars Solve Match Situations Differently?

BrainsFirst Launches Global Women Football Brain Index Project

Today, BrainsFirst announced the launch of the Global Women’s Football Brain Index-project, ahead of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. The project is aimed at evaluating the cognitive abilities of female elite football players across the world and providing insights into the role of the brain in identifying and nurturing female football brains. “We expect to see a lot of similarities compared to our existing Football Brain Index. However, in elite sports it’s frequently the small differences that matter,” reports BrainsFirst founder Eric Castien.

Following the success of the Men’s Global Football Brain Index introduced in 2019, BrainsFirst decided to extend its longitudinal research to female football players. The project uses the latest neuroscience and AI technologies to assess cognitive abilities such as decision-making, attention, and spatial awareness.

The Global Women’s Football Brain Index will provide valuable insights into the cognitive abilities of female football players and how they relate to performance on the field. The project will also offer comparative data on male and female football players’ cognitive abilities, allowing for a better understanding of gender differences in football.

“The launch of the Global Women’s Football Brain Index is an important milestone for BrainsFirst,” says Castien. “Traditional methods of evaluating football talent systematically underestimate the performance of female players, because of their over-dependence on physical development. We‘ve seen that cognitive abilities play a crucial role in elite football performance. Even in male football hidden talents are overlooked in the youth because of physical underperformance and this gets worse with female players. But those tinier youngsters probably have much more powerful football brains. Both Messi and his female peer Marta are one of the smallest and smartest players on the field. We help clubs and associations to evaluate talents more fairly by taking a look under the hood. Today we introduce this inclusive way of talent assessment into women’s football, too.”

BrainsFirst started its research in global elite football in 2013. Neuroscientists Ilja Sligte and Andries van der Leij accomplished their mission to link brain functions to field performance thanks to the participation of clubs like AZ Alkmaar, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord from Eredivisie, clubs in Premier League, Bundesliga, Jupiler League, and Primera Division, and both the Dutch and Belgian FA. Today over 50 elite clubs use BrainsFirst in their talent identification process.

The first version of the Global Women Football Brain Index will be launched during the FIFA Women’s  World Cup, which takes place from 20 July to 20 August 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. The project will involve the participation of elite football clubs and federal associations to assess female football players from across the world, providing a comprehensive view of the cognitive abilities of female football players.

Business Development Director Jens Urlbauer adds: “Identifying and developing talent is key to the success of any football club, and this is especially true for women’s football. As the sport continues to grow and gain more recognition, it is important that we invest in talent identification programs to ensure that we are not missing out on talented female players who could become the stars of tomorrow.”

For more information on the Global Women Football Brain Index, visit the BrainsFirst website or contact the BrainsFirst press office. Read more about our sports solutions here.

Eric Castien – Founder

Geplaatst: 15 Feb, 2023

Press Release: “Why do we Keep Cramming the Square into the Round Hole?”

Zero Talent Waste Goals offers Structural Labor Market Solution

Almost 6 out of 10 vacancies are not filled or are only filled with difficulty. That is what the UWV concludes from a survey among more than 4,500 employers. Never before has the labor market been so stuck. The old solutions? Extend the vacancy, play with the terms of employment or launch a fun recruitment site. A patchwork that does not extend beyond the surface. Can we do better? Yes. BrainsFirst successfully introduced a new talent measurement tool that looks under the hood to find deep skills. The ability to find atypical talent increased significantly. And that’s only the beginning. “We’re going for Zero Talent Waste.”

In 2018, brain scientist Dr. Ilja Sligte noticed that the selection criteria that Air Traffic Control Netherlands (LVNL) had set up did not lead to the desired number of suitable new recruits per year. On behalf of the scaleup BrainsFirst, which he co-founded, Sligte proposed looking for talent differently. 

It was time to find ways to break through this talent jam. “Together with LVNL, we are now primarily looking at deeper lying issues skills, at brain level. That produces surprising matches that are independent of CV, education, grade list, or interests.”

This deep skills method is about recognizing very concrete, underlying skills that serve as the basis for acquiring knowledge and skills. Every brain is completely unique. “If you are naturally good at recognizing patterns and can work both quickly and accurately, you will acquire certain skills that come with a profession such as financial controller, first aid doctor, or software tester. We map brains and match them with jobs,” says BrainsFirst founder Eric Castien. “Talent is largely invisible and hard to catch. Normally we only see the tip of the iceberg, but if we start to look under water as it were, we suddenly see hidden matches.”

From Messi to Maintenance Engineer

Six years of scientific research into the link between brain and job brought Castien and his brain partners Ilja Sligte and Andries van der Leij along various talent incubators. From the KNVB Campus in Zeist via office staff at the Municipality of Rotterdam, option traders at IMC, lawyers at the Zuidas, programmers in the Utrecht region, and doctors-in-training at Amsterdam UMC. 

Neuroscientist Sligte: “Any role or job demands something specific from the brain. If you look at supply and demand on the labor market, then the jars fit and lids less and less. With congestion in almost every sector as a result. Why? Employers try cramming squares into round holes with all their might. We are able to look at deep skills and in this way accelerate the stalled talent matching. Whether it’s top football, engineering, finance, healthcare or IT: look primarily for the match between brain potential and job profile.”

Mission #zerotalentwaste: EU Framework as a Cross-Border Basis

Labor market experts have recently referred to the ‘skills-based approach’ as a panacea for the labor market frictions. Sligte: “This refinement of profession or function into a cluster of skills is a good one step. Where it still pinches is how do you manage to remove subjectivity and bias from all those words? Agility, learning ability, attention, problem-solving ability: how do you quantify them and make every talent count, literally?  By measuring brain functions and expressing them in numbers, we succeed much better than traditional methods. This provides a robust, sustainable basis for subsequent matching. Because our work is based on the European framework for Skills, Competencies, and Occupations (ESCO) we have linked to brain types. That means it is finally possible for employers to go underwater and recognize what they are now looking for above water. This way you prevent the structural wasting of talent. I expect that hundreds of thousands of talents will be matched in this way in the coming years. ”

Geplaatst: 19 Jan, 2023

Attention Please!

Do I have your attention? Great! Then let me tell you something about attention and how measuring it can provide insights into someone’s performance at work. Nowadays our attention is often tested to its limits as we are continuously bombarded with massive amounts of information. Finding the right information sometimes seems like finding a needle in a haystack. However, we “humans” are very good at discerning the relevant from the irrelevant and are able to complete tasks that at first sight seem impossible just by paying attention. But what is attention anyway?

What is Attention?

You can think of attention as a spotlight. A spotlight that only shines its light on the things that you are focusing on at that moment. But attention is not just about anchoring your focus on one particular thing, it is also involved in suppressing competing information and affects our perception of all stimuli surrounding us. While you are reading this, there are numerous sights, sounds, and sensations going on around you. The pressure of your feet against the floor, the sight of the street from a nearby window, the soft warmth of your shirt, the memory of a conversation you had earlier with a friend. All these factors compete for our attention but only the most relevant parts reach our awareness.

The Multitasking Myth

Attention is limited. Still, we like to convince ourselves (and others) that we are multitasking heroes. That we can drive, text, and fix our makeup while looking in the rearview mirror all at the same time. Previous research has shown that multitasking doesn’t really exist and is just a rapid attention-switching technique. Some people will be better at this than others but multitasking always results in lower efficiency at higher energy costs. Since attention is a limited resource, we have to be selective about what we decide to focus on and what to ignore.

How Attentional Performance Contributes at the Workplace

So what does your attention performance tell about how you function in a work setting? Attention is an important building block for abilities like decision-making, operational speed, accuracy, perseverance, and self-reflection. People who score high on attentional tasks are more likely to act fast and precise in situations where a lot of information is available, are able to maintain constant production levels for long periods of time, and are relatively good at estimating which behavior is appropriate in any given situation. When someone scores low on attention this could result in up to 20% lower productivity on the job. For this attention can be seen as an important factor when determining if someone is suitable for a particular job.

Jobs that Require a High Level of Attention

Especially work environments with a lot of different types of information require someone with a high level of attention. Attention is needed to make sure that all information is noted and processed properly. For example, in case of an air traffic controller, it’s essential to possess an exceptional level of attentional skills taking flight routes, different airplanes, and multiple runways into consideration at the same time. The smallest error could result in dramatic consequences. Besides air traffic controllers, police officers should also possess good attentional skills. The smallest details in a case could be essential in finding a perpetrator, indicating signs of domestic violence, or determining if someone is dangerous or not. These are both very important jobs that depend on superior attentional skills which could make the difference between life and death.

“You Know my Methods, Watson”

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective from the stories of the late 19th century and early 20th century, created by the writer and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes’ character has become one of the most famous characters in the world. Holmes is best known for his intelligence and his ability to deduce important conclusions from small, often seemingly unimportant clues. Because of his extraordinary detective skills, we assume that, although Holmes is a fictional character, his level of attentional skills should have been extremely good, taking into consideration that he was able to pay attention to every clue no matter how small or meaningless it seemed to others.


Anticipation: The Only Real Time Machine!

We are all time travelers. Each day, we make thousands of short trips into the future. Not physically as with the DeLorean from back to the future, but within our minds in a time machine called anticipation. But how does this anticipation time-traveling machine really help us in our daily life activities?

What is Anticipation?

Anticipation is the process of imaginative speculation about the future that is based on information arising in your field of attention. When we cross a busy road, we anticipate the future movements and actions of everybody around us. We base our own movements on this short time-traveling process. Anticipation comes in many different shapes. The simplest distinction is between explicit and implicit anticipation. Explicit anticipations are those of which you are aware and conscious about. They may be used as synonyms for predictions or expectations. For example, explicit anticipation is used when you plan ahead on a project or at the beginning of your day. Implicit anticipations, by contrast, work below the threshold of consciousness and are active within the brain without you being aware of them like crossing the road. You often are not aware of all the things you take into consideration before making the first step to the other side, Without being conscious about it, in your head you continuously make a future image of the situation around you taking things into consideration like the speed of cars, traffic lights and your own speed in space and time! Your implicit anticipation skills prepare you for all possible future events even the ones that you don’t expect.

Keep the Stress Up!

Our anticipation skills are important building blocks for behavioral expressions, which include: stress resilience, perseverance, goal-oriented acting, and working in a planned and systematic way. For example, planning ahead and accounting for all possible outcomes enables you to choose the best options (explicit anticipation). People who are adept in anticipatory thinking are better at assessing how to act in many different situations and keep their performance up under complication and stress. You often see that people with good anticipation skills perform even better under pressure and in stressful environments compared to workplaces where their anticipation capacities are not tested to their limits!

When the Roof is on Fire

People with high levels of anticipation skills will be most likely to thrive best in environments that require a lot of switching between activities, tasks, and different types of information. For example, firefighters depend on their anticipation skills during their work. The moment a firefighter enters a burning building, the safety of a firefighter (and often the safety of others) depend on his or her ability to anticipate unexpected events. For example, a collapsing roof or an explosion could always happen and a firefighter must be prepared. In the heat of the moment, one’s level of anticipation can make the difference between life and death.

Anticipation and the Non-Flying Dutchman

When thinking about a role model of someone who possesses some exceptionally good anticipation skills, the first person that popped into my mind was the Dutch soccer player, Dennis Bergkamp. Dennis Bergkamp, known for his fear of flying, which even caused him to miss some of the most important matches in his career, owned his true fame to his exceptional soccer skills. Mainly, because of the fact that he never had to react to the actions of his teammates. On the contrary, he was always already at the right place at the right time and always knew where the ball and his teammates would go before they did. This ability can only be assigned to anticipation skills of the highest level!


Are You in Control?

This summer will be my summer” is what you told yourself after the December feeding frenzies. Now it’s the New Year and you are making the resolution to get in shape and achieve the perfect summer body. One that is suitable for long parades on the beach and breathtaking for all your admirers. But after a few weeks of hard work in the gym and watching your diet, you can literally hear that red velvet cake in the bakery shop window screaming your name. Which leaves us with the following question “are you really in control of your own actions?”. Find out by measuring cognitive control. In this blog, you read everything about cognitive control and how it relates to our daily lives and work performance.

“This summer will be my summer!”

Sorry, what do You Mean by Cognitive Control?

Cognitive control allows our mind to override impulses. It helps us make thoughtful decisions based on our goals rather than our habits. It’s what allows us to select a certain behavior that is accepted as appropriate and reject inappropriate behavior. It also clarifies our long-term goals and purposes, which helps us to adjust our behavior to reach these goals. Our inhibition abilities are the brakes of our cognitive control system. They enable us to avoid doing certain behaviors and allow us to consider our actions instead of reacting on impulse. Cognitive control is at the center of our self-awareness. This is our highest level of consciousness and a main building block of our willpower.

Cognitive Control at Work

Our cognitive control underlies important behavioral expressions like agility, improvisation, patience, self-control, and work pace. Cognitive control is of great importance on the work floor. It becomes especially important for jobs where important decisions must be made in short amounts of time. It also is of great importance for jobs where you have to deliver constant, precise, and high-quality work. Our cognitive control skills underlie our abilities to remain “zen” at the workplace. As the name already suggests, it enables us to be in control of the situation!

Brain Chef

We are all familiar with those television shows that test inexperienced chefs to their limits like “Top chef” or “Master chef”. The best chefs in the world are heavily dependent on their cognitive control mechanisms. They have to continuously adapt their work pace to the occupation of the restaurant and the desires of the guests. Besides that, they have to account for a lot of information at once and make numerous decisions based on their product properties. When something goes wrong, they have to improvise last minute to save the dish. Information concerning the preparation, cooking time, and locations of different tables, have to be linked together and fast decisions have to be made constantly. Therefore, chefs and many other jobs in gastronomy require particularly good cognitive control performance!

Hole in One, or Set Point?

Two famous people that we expect to have extraordinary cognitive control skills are Tiger Woods (*at the peak of his career) and Rodger Federer. Both players ooze class and are able to adjust their movements until the very last moment. For example, Tiger Woods was aware of his movements every second during his golf competitions and could adjust or stop his swing until the very last moment. Like Tiger Woods, you can observe how Rodger Federer is in total control of his actions. He really knows what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and when to do it. All without even thinking about it!


Win the War for Talent: How Recruiters Can See More by Looking Differently

The Netherlands is full of talent. Whether or not effectively schooled. Nevertheless, alarming reports weekly appear in the media that point to the scarcity of talent in the labor market. The ominous concept of war for talent has still not been reduced to a cease-fire. There is no lack of suggested directions for the solution. However, it goes wrong in the execution. Successful redistribution of talent on the labor market stands or falls by accepting a generally accepted talent currency.

“If you don’t recognize what you are looking for, you will never find it”

The numbers don’t lie. According to the UWV, no fewer than 140 professions in the Netherlands have serious shortages. In addition to the well-known problem sectors such as IT, healthcare, and education, the number of positions that are difficult to fill in the legal sector and in the government is increasing at the same rate for the first time in years. The real problem? The basic principles of job matchmaking as we know it are under attack.

You Don’t Win the War for Talent with Outdated Armor Equipment

The toolbox for quantifying and qualifying talent dates from the last century. The weapons used by the majority of recruitment departments in the war for talent are intelligence tests, personality questionnaires, interviews, and CVs. Sometimes supplemented by a reference check or, in the case of internal mobility, job evaluations. The 3 shortcomings of that toolkit are of great concern: high level of subjectivity, lack of context, and focus on the past (and therefore a lousy predictor of the future).

It is precisely in the talent twenties that performance in previous functions and roles of yesterday no longer provides a basis for performance in the future. The toolkit to qualify talent must be overhauled. There’s the rub. In the year 2020 the assessment industry supplies either casual-looking games or role-playing games based on VR technology; it is almost always old HR wine in new bottles. The form is modern, but the underlying basic principles are still outdated. And therefore no longer sufficient. Result? The massive unutilization of potential valuable matches in the labor market.

The Non-Hire that has Cost Facebook Billions

Not only traditional companies are guilty of using assessment methods and recruitment tools from the last century. The inability of Facebook’s talent acquisition department to recognize atypical talent led to the rejection of both Brian Acton and Jan Koum. The CVs and interviewing skills of this largely autodidactic duo did not pass the extremely expensive talent test of the social media giant in 2007. Both IT professionals took sweet revenge 6 years after their application rejection by selling their mobile messaging platform Whatsapp to Facebook for almost $20 billion.

Win the War for Walent

Due to extensive automation, the irreversible breakthrough of AI, and digital transformation, the traditional function house is under pressure in every organization. Tasks are increasingly lapsing, traditional functions are changing, the required knowledge changes and distinguished skills are no longer necessary. Once an accountant, always an accountant? That time has passed. By continuing to do what you did, you get what you got: a huge waste of talent.

Every self-respecting HR professional knows that the expiry date of the traditional recruitment toolkit is behind us. The recruitment system is leaky and needs a structural fix. If you are no longer able to detect new talent with the glasses that you previously put on, then you have to literally and figuratively adjust your vision of talent – or have it adjusted. The war for talent requires other weapons and the adjustment of your search scope.

It sounds so simple. Discover other talent pools. Go for untapped potential. The problem – overfished pools – and the cause – labor market shortage – have long been crystal clear. The solutions – selected differently – are presented at the “eat healthier” level. The why, what, and when is named. The how not, and that makes the difference between a failing and successful recruitment strategy.

Look Differently and Discover Talent at its Natural Source

The key to a balanced labor market is all in our heads. Quite literally. If achievements from the past, school grades from years ago or tests that measure the now but not measure the future, cannot tell you whether a talent will deliver the performance you desire in a certain context, you will have to dig deeper. That means that you have to look for the underlying human performance processors at brain level. The building blocks of behavior and therefore of performance in the workplace. Voila: brain functions. An objective, accurate blueprint of a person’s neuro-cognitive abilities provides a reliable indication of, among other things, thinking capacity, thinking style, thinking speed, attention, planning, control & anticipation. This gives you insight into the potential and you can look at pure talent beneath the layer of knowledge and skills. You will find out by using a brain-based assessment.

The advantage for recruiters? Only in this way can you give a person who does not yet have the required (prior) knowledge or skills a fair chance in the application process. This “look under the hood” allows you as an HR professional to recognize atypical talent. Talents who are rejected elsewhere, get the opportunity they deserve at your organization. By looking at talent like this, you give yourself access to countless talent pools that previously seemed incomprehensible. You assess your workforce of the future primarily on growth potential. Now you know the how. How you can see more by looking differently.

Start Today and See More

Do you want to win the war for talent and are you open to looking at talents differently? Please contact us, we will be happy to discuss this with you.


Brain-Based Talent Identification Enters Primera Division

Real Sociedad & BrainsFirst Sign a 3-Year Agreement

The Spanish club, currently in the top ranks, and the Amsterdam-based Sports-tech company BrainsFirst start their collaboration this month with a focus on the identification and selection of the most promising football talents.

The common goal is to make the process of talent identification & evaluation more fact-based, data-driven, and scalable. Especially in times of Corona, remote testing is of great value. BrainsFirst offers an online validated assessment games platform, by combining gamification and its neuroscience-based technology.

BrainsFirst enables Real Sociedad to assess the football brain potential – or game intelligence – of a player. This kind of data is seen as a crucial piece of the overall talent puzzle. According to previous experience i.e. The Netherlands, applying BrainsFirst as an early-funnel recruitment step leads to more justified admissions & rejections and consequently a higher efficiency in the overall process. Roberto Olabe Aranzabal, Director of Football for Real Sociedad explains: “We constantly look for relevant innovation and see cognitive data in respect to a very specific profile of a future professional football player as an added value for us. We want to have a holistic view and understand as early as possible the probability of the talents to meet those high requirements of elite football. BrainsFirst has proven to be an experienced and reliable partner for this aspect.”

BrainsFirst has had its initial experiences in Spain with Celta de Vigo and Numancia. “Real Sociedad decides to choose this approach of talent identification & evaluation for the long term. They prove to have a clear vision and want to use the tools of today to succeed in the future. We are very pleased to work with this club,” says Jens Urlbauer, Director Business Development of BrainsFirst.

About BrainsFirst

BrainsFirst BV was founded in 2012 to define the context-specific required cognitive functions of elite football players. Since 2014, the data collection, analysis & interpretation leads to a considerably higher number of justified admissions & rejections in talent academies. Dutch clubs like PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord, and association KNVB are long-term partners. Clubs in Germany, Belgium, England and now Spain are kicking off.

Interested in implementing brain-based talent identification into your academy process? Contact us today or read more about our sports solutions here!

Eric Castien – Founder


Bias-Free Selection by a Computer Algorithm?

Artificial intelligence is called a great solution for good and efficient pre-screening within large numbers of resumes and candidates for years now. There is a bit of confusion around what AI can and cannot do since it is such a broad concept. But when it comes down to the war for talent AI plays a very specific role: to give more accurate and more efficient predictions of a candidate’s work-related behaviors and performance potential. In this way, it can also help to remove bias from the first steps of the selection process. It is important to use a clear definition of AI in selection. AI is, “Finding patterns that people often don’t see by analyzing large amounts of data.” These patterns are converted into algorithms that are then used to make decisions that make the selection process more objective (read with less bias) and faster.

The Benefits of AI in Selection Processes

Unlike traditional recruitment methods, AI is able to find patterns unseen by the human eye without being distracted by irrelevant background information. The use of tools based on AI brings many advantages in recruitment:

  • Better hiring quality
  • Time-saving
  • Better candidate assessment
  • Reducing bias


But watch out, it now seems that there are only benefits while there is still something to be said about the last 2 points. AI and algorithms can take the human (un)conscious assessment out of the selection process, which is positive. But you have to be alert here that AI models are usually a result of the data you put in (the training data set). We often see that these are data models of high performers or of other uniform groups of employees in the organization who share certain characteristics.
Based on this, a ‘model candidate’ is made with which the job applicants are compared. This gives a probabilistic estimate of the match between the candidate and the job. Theoretically, this sounds very promising. But if there is bias in your data or your training data set and the algorithms are not corrected for this, AI will only exacerbate the problem of bias in selection.

Subtle and Unintended Bias from AI

If you are going to predict football performance among 15-year-olds, you will see that the oldest boys in the selection – born in January, February, or March – are often the best football players. This is because boys of 15 years are still growing and the slightly older boys are physically superior and therefore seem to be better players. A beautiful book has been written about this phenomenon by Malcolm Gladwell; “Outliers, the Story of Success”. Bias suddenly takes the form of a birth month effect. It is therefore important that you try to avoid that your dataset used for the algorithm is too pure. It is not always transparent how an algorithm has been developed with which social acceptance is discussed. Candidates (rightly) wonder whether the criteria against which they have been set are correct. Who can reassure them that the algorithm does not select by age, for example?

What can you do to use AI in your selection process as well and objectively as possible?

  1. Actively request personal data: Ask candidates for permission to analyze their personal data in order to normalize the data in order to prevent bias.
  2. Map unconscious biases: Only when you know there is bias you can actively counteract this bias.
  3. Keep tracking inclusion and diversity: Keep track of whether the measures you take actually promote inclusivity and diversity. Do regular research and discuss the results with your (HR) team.
  4. Research the tool you use: What are the claims of the suppliers and how can they prove them? Has the tool been scientifically developed and substantiated or is it more of a flashy modern tool where more attention has been paid to the experience and less to the research?

Conclusion: AI is No Panacea

Avoiding bias in the selection process is difficult, even if you leave it to a computer, you have to stay alert. By mapping as many unconscious biases as possible in advance and continuing to correct them, you reduce the chance of excluding a candidate based on (un)conscious bias. It remains important to continuously refresh your knowledge of new technology and AI in order to make the best choices for the recruitment policy.


BrainsFirst & SoccerLAB : Partners in Talent Identification

SoccerLAB and BrainsFirst join forces to offer a unique combination of platforms to the sports world. Unprecedented possibilities in identifying and developing talents become available for both platforms’ customers.

Professional sports neither start nor stop when the athlete leaves the game arena. The search for marginal gains to improve performance is a key element for the whole industry. Whether it is a new hardware sensor or a new data stream, better data is key to making better well-founded decisions.

For years SoccerLAB has been working with its customers to provide a software platform to centralize, analyze, and visualize all relevant data for football clubs worldwide. Ranging from data from young talents to scout reports of the next superstar of the first team and everything in between.

With the BrainsFirst partnership, SoccerLAB adds an extra factor for customers to make better player profiles. With data coming from the cognitive assessment software of BrainsFirst, the 360° view of talent in SoccerLAB is extended with unique objective data. BrainsFirst is backed by 6 years of cutting-edge neuroscientific research to reveal human performance’s biological building blocks.

Crucial Part of the Puzzle

“In football, the assessment games of BrainsFirst have a proven track record“, says Eric Castien, founder of BrainsFirst. “The cognitive profile information of a player gives extra aid to decide on a player’s future. Combining this with the other objective & subjective data already available in SoccerLAB is giving customers more foundation to make decisions.

Unique Match of Products

“We are always looking for new integrations and are very happy with this new partnership. BrainsFirst has a unique offering to our customers and is introducing the increasingly important part of the cognitive profile into SoccerLAB.”, says Steven Belen, CEO van SoccerLAB. “With this partnership, we allow our customers to add an extra objective data layer regarding their biggest asset. The player.” Contact us or read more about BrainsFirst Sports solutions here.

Eric Castien – Founder


Less Selection Bias due to Games?

Bias; lately, much has been said about selection bias and the prevention of discrimination during the selection process. Yet the discussion and attempts to reduce bias during the selection process are of all times. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, for example, introduced blind auditions in the 1950s where musicians performed behind a screen and were not visible to the selectors. The goal was to eliminate gender bias and bring more diversity to the largely male orchestra. By selecting on talent and not on gender, the chance for a woman to be admitted rose from 25% to 46%.

This success story was also picked up outside the music world. Large companies – such as Deloitte and EY – apply parts of these “blind hiring” processes, for example by anonymizing CVs. AI-based technologies are also increasingly used to remove human bias from the selection processes. In design similar to the screen in the audition with the symphony orchestra, but with a modern technological twist with the aim to give everyone an equal chance.

Games as a Way to Create Equal Opportunities in the Selection Process

There are numerous ways to try to take bias out of the selection process and give everyone, regardless of race, gender, or other characteristics, a fair chance. One of these ways is the use of game-based assessments. HR specialist Bas van de Haterd (owner of Digitaal werven) describes game-based assessments as the way to give everyone an equal chance in selection procedures (see article in de Volkskrant). “Because people have a perception of what you can do based on prejudices, and a computer looks at what you can actually do and who you really are,” – Bas van de Haterd.

More and more often, games are added to the recruitment process to gain insight into the applicants. First, it is good to know that there is a distinction between game-based assessments and gamified assessments. The latter is referred to as gamification, which means that game elements are applied in an assessment. Think of a bar that indicates how far you are in the process.

Game-based assessments are really about games that measure behavior and generate insight into the candidate’s potential. A great example of this is Achmea’s case in which candidates are asked to hack a fictitious system.

There are different forms of game-based assessments:

  • Cognitive assessments
  • Psychometric assessments
  • Situational judgement games


The top category maps brain qualities. A specific form of this is brain-based serious gaming. In this way you can make a pure match between potential – what you can and who you are – and job.

The brain largely determines whether we are good at certain tasks or not and each person has a unique brain profile. This personal brainprofile makes that one person matches a position or role better than another.

All people have natural strengths and weaknesses in their cognitive profile. Having a job that matches your strengths will make you happier and more productive – regardless of your previous education or previous work experience. Some organizations use so-called IQ tests or capacities tests to measure, for example, work and thinking levels. This is based on the idea that work experience and IQ predict the best success. These tests have the disadvantage that they often require a good understanding of language or knowledge of certain school skills. In addition, some people have a language problem such as dyslexia, which would give them a disadvantage. You therefore run the risk of excluding certain target groups or putting them at a disadvantage. Games can be made by anyone, no knowledge of a language is required.

Making a match between qualities and tasks through games democratizes the recruiting process and allows everyone to stand out solely based on their ability to excel at the job.

Brain-Based Gaming Can Reduce Bias

Recently, gamification has been widely used in selection processes, where we see a positive impact on reducing bias, especially in brain-based gaming. Brain-based games are easy to play for everyone and require no other skills such as language proficiency or training. If a brain-based game is used, the greatest gains, in terms of bias reduction, will be made when the results are assessed before the CV is viewed.