Neuroscientists have found several ways in which the brains of top-notch athletes seem to function better than those of regular folks.
The qualities that set a great athlete apart from the rest of us lie not just in the muscles and the lungs but also between the ears. That’s because athletes need to make complicated decisions in a flash. [...]
In recent years neuroscientists have begun to catalog some fascinating differences between average brains and the brains of great athletes. By understanding what goes on in athletic heads, researchers hope to understand more about the workings of all brains—those of sports legends and couch potatoes alike.
[A]n athlete’s actions are much more than a set of automatic responses; they are part of a dynamic strategy to deal with an ever-changing mix of intricate challenges.
Good genes may account for some of the differences in ability, but even the most genetically well-endowed prodigy clearly needs practice—lots of it—to develop the brain of an athlete.
Some (but not all) of the research involved, for those interested…
- A computational neuroanatomy for motor control, by Reza Shadmehr of Johns Hopkins University and John Krakauer of Columbia University
- “Neural efficiency” of athletes’ brain for upright standing: A high-resolution EEG study, by Claudio Del Percio of Sapienza University in Rome, Claudio Babiloni, Nicola Marzano, Marco Iacoboni, Francesco Infarinato, Fabrizio Vecchio, Roberta Lizio, Pierluigi Aschieri, Antonio Fiore, Giancarlo Toràn, Michele Gallamini, Marta Baratto and Fabrizio Eusebi
- Neuroplasticity: Changes in grey matter induced by training, by Bogdan Draganski, Christian Gaser, Volker Busch, Gerhard Schuierer, Ulrich Bogdahn & Arne May
- How do world-class cricket batsmen anticipate a bowler’s intention?, by Müller S, Abernethy B, Farrow D.