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Elite athletes also excel at some cognitive tasks
Date:3/18/2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. New research suggests that elite athletes Olympic medalists in volleyball, for example perform better than the rest of us in yet another way. These athletes excel not only in their sport of choice but also in how fast their brains take in and respond to new information cognitive abilities that are important on and off the court.

The study, of 87 top-ranked Brazilian volleyball players (some of them medalists in the Beijing and London Olympics) and 67 of their nonathletic contemporaries, also found that being an athlete minimizes the performance differences that normally occur between women and men. Female athletes, the researchers found, were more like their male peers in the speed of their mental calculations and reaction times, while nonathletic females performed the same tasks more slowly than their male counterparts.

The study appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

"I think we have learned that athletes are different from us in some ways," said University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute Director Arthur Kramer, who led the study with graduate student Heloisa Alves.

"We found that athletes were generally able to inhibit behavior, to stop quickly when they had to, which is very important in sport and in daily life, " Kramer said. "They were also able to activate, to pick up information from a glance and to switch between tasks more quickly than nonathletes. I would say these were modest differences, but they were interesting differences nonetheless."

Overall, the athletes were faster at memory tests and tasks that required them to switch between tasks. They were quicker to notice things in their peripheral vision and to detect subtle changes in a sc
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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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