The University of Miami Hurricanes football program will partner with UM neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha for an innovative research study to investigate how mindfulness training can help football players better cope with the high stakes and high demands of collegiate athletics.
"The question we ask is if mindfulness training which has been found to benefit high-stress groups like soldiers, Marines, CEOs and college students can help student athletes in their academic and athletic performance," said Dr. Jha, associate professor in the UM College of Arts & Sciences Department of Psychology and director of contemplative neuroscience for the UMindfulness Initiative.
Jha will be the lead researcher on the study. Previous research by her group found that mindfulness training helps curb mind wandering and improve attention as high-stress undergraduates near exam season.
Mindfulness is defined as a state of active, open attention to the present. Practitioners of mindfulness observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment, and focus on "living in the moment."
The Jha-Hurricanes football collaboration is the first phase of a larger "Cane Brain Project," which aims to determine if mindfulness training may be brain protective in collegiate football players. Jha will begin the project this summer, working with Scott Rogers, director of the UM Mindfulness and Law Program, to develop and deliver an innovative mindfulness program to UM's football student-athletes.
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that the hippocampus, a part of the brain necessary for memory, is smaller in college football players especially those who have had concussions. Other research has shown that mindfulness training may help grow this area.
"While better helmet design may help protect their brains from the outside in, very little known about what types of cognitive training exercises might
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University of Miami