Sporting Prowess Through Brain Power

Feb 09, 2010

A study conducted by scientists at Brunel University and at the University of Hong Kong has found that expert sportsmen are quicker to observe and react to their opponents' moves than novice players, exhibiting enhanced activation of the cortical regions of the brain.

The results of the study, which appear in the most recent issue of NeuroReport, show that more experienced sports players are better able to detect early anticipatory clues from opposing players’ , giving them a split second advantage in preparing an appropriate response.

Recent studies have demonstrated how expertise affects a range of perceptual-motor skills, from the imitation of hand actions in guitarists, to the learning of action sequences in pianists and dancers.  In these studies, experts showed increased activation in the cortical networks of the compared with novices. Fast ball sports are particularly dependent on time-critical predictions of the actions of other players and of the consequences of those actions, and for several decades, sports scientists have sought to understand how expertise in these sports is developed.

This most recent study, headed by Dr Michael Wright, was carried out by observing the and of badminton players of varying degrees of ability, from recreational players to international competitors. Participants were shown video clips of an opposing badminton player striking a shuttlecock and asked to predict where the shot would land. In all participants, activation was observed in areas of the brain previously associated with the observation, understanding and preparation of human action; expert players showed enhanced brain activity in these regions and responded more quickly to the movements of their opponents.

Expertise in is not only dependent on physical prowess, then, but also on enhanced brain activity in these key areas of the brain. The observations made during this study will certainly have implications for how we perceive the nature of expertise in sport and perhaps even change the way athletes train.

Explore further: How the brain leads us to believe we have sharp vision

More information: "Functional MRI reveals expert-novice differences during sport-related anticipation". Wright, Michael J.; Bishop, Daniel T.; Jackson, Robin C.; Abernethy, Bruce. NeuroReport. 27 January 2010 - Volume 21 - Issue 2 - pp 94-98, www.neuroreport.com

Provided by Brunel University

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The ace perceptual skills of tennis pros

Jun 11, 2008

Tennis Grand Slam season is upon us once again with the French Open already over, and Wimbledon hot on its heels later in the month. Past studies have shown that tennis players outperform non-players at anticipating which ...

Effects of brain exercise depend on opponent

Feb 04, 2009

Playing games against a computer activates different brain areas from those activated when playing against a human opponent. Research published in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience has shown that the belief that o ...

Guitarists' brains swing together (w/Video)

Mar 17, 2009

When musicians play along together it isn't just their instruments that are in time - their brain waves are too. Research published in the online open access journal BMC Neuroscience shows how EEG readouts from pairs of gui ...

Neuroscientists propose new theory of brain flexibility

Nov 15, 2007

Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientist Marcel Just and Stanford postdoctoral fellow Sashank Varma have put forward a new computational theory of brain function that provides answers to one of the central questions of modern ...

Recommended for you

Myelin vital for learning new practical skills

Oct 16, 2014

New evidence of myelin's essential role in learning and retaining new practical skills, such as playing a musical instrument, has been uncovered by UCL research. Myelin is a fatty substance that insulates ...

Reminiscing can help, not hinder, some mind-bending tasks

Oct 16, 2014

To solve a mental puzzle, the brain's executive control network for externally focused, goal-oriented thinking must activate, while the network for internally directed thinking like daydreaming must be turned down to avoid ...

Bio-X scientists develop decoy drug to aid ailing brain

Oct 16, 2014

A team of Stanford Bio-X scientists has restored the ability of adult mice to form new connections in the brain. If the finding works in people, it has the potential to help adults recover from stroke and ...

User comments : 0