Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Athletes Conquer the Average? New Study Proven

The question scientists have been debating for a long while: are athletes more intelligent than the average American? The answer after copious amounts of studying and analysis leans towards yes. Not only are athletes in tune with their bodies, taking care of their lungs and nourishing themselves with the proper foods, but the brain of an athlete seems to be superior to that of a non athlete, says researchers from various Universities including Johns Hopkins and Columbia University. The neuroscientists have been assessing the differences between a person who is less inclined to physical activity, versus an individual who receives moderate to plentiful amounts of physical exercise each day. Scientists have concluded that a simple aim at a target using a small pistol takes much more mental skill and accuracy than one may think. A marksman shooting a gun must make rapid fire decisions not only with his fingers, but with his brain, estimating where the bullet will pass through, how much force is needed, the distance between the explosion of the gun and the target, and so forth. At speeds almost undetectable, the marksman is calculating all of this in a matter of seconds, with his result appearing on or off the target.

The main reason why athletes have less difficulty in performing certain tasks is because they are accustomed to making quick decisions without having to stop and ponder over each individual step. Neuroscientists have gathered information pertaining to the sensations felt in the brain, claiming that there are several parts needed in order for the brain to carry out a task. As the brain begins to calculate which is the most favorable path, it simultaneously analyzes the resulting sensation that would occur if the anticipated goal were to be achieved. The reason why athletes' brains are more likely to dominate in this designated area, simply lies in their innate ability to sense motion more keenly than the regular.

Researchers have been undergoing numerous experiments that have assisted in proving their theory that athletes do in fact have a more efficient brain than an ordinary person. For example, Claudio Del Percio, a neuroscientist professor at Sapienza University in Rome conducted a study with his colleages testing both pistol shooters and fencers. The result was stimulating, as it showed brain activity to be quieter among those who were athletic, versus those who were not. He concluded that the more athletic an individual was, the fewer the neurons were needed to produce a desirable result. Athletes have simply built up an immunity to challenge, and when introduced to something that seems difficult, they are more readily able to accept and complete the challenge through the use of fewer brain neurons than a nonathlete.

If someone were to take on a new sport, even a new task that involved hand eye coordination such as juggling, over time, with practice, their brain would begin to develop more gray matter which is a scientific term meaning that the brain becomes more efficient. Neurons connect and weaken with one another especially in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in focus and coordination. As scientists and professors continue to run tests including both athletic and nonathletic people alike, they are discovering that people with an inclination for athletic activity tend to catch on more quickly, and their brains sense motion far more earlier than those that do not get as much physical activity from day to day. Athletes are able to predict when and where a player will go, how they will move and why whereas ordinary people, are not as likely to pick up on the smaller details.

Whatever the case, scientists are still working hard and running tests to prove their theory that athletic brains function more efficiently than regular. They are not singling out anyone who is average, however they are theorizing that, through neuroscience and much collected data over the years, athletes may just have that extra ingredient after all.

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