Navigation Links
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 scene. And in general, they were better able to accomplish tasks while ignoring confusing or irrelevant information.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery was that female athletes had significant cognitive advantages over their nonathletic counterparts, Kramer said, advantages that minimized the subtle speed differences between them and the men. The female athletes were faster than their nonathletic peers at detecting changes in a scene and could more quickly pick out relevant details from a distracting background. Their performance on these and the other tasks was on par with the male athletes, whereas nonathletic males consistently outperformed their female peers.

Nonathletes excelled at only one of the cognitive tests the researchers administered. In this test, called the stopping task, participants were asked to type a "Z" or "/" key as soon as they saw it on a computer screen unless they heard a tone shortly after the character appeared, in which case they were told to refrain from responding. Nonathletes tended to be faster in cases where the tone never sounded, while athletes were better at inhibiting their responses after hearing a tone.

The ability to inhibit a response is one marker of what brain researchers call "executive function," the capacity to control, plan and regulate one's behavior, Kramer said. While it has obvious advantages in sport, the ability to quickly inhibit an action also is useful in daily life, he said.

"One way to think about it is you're in your car and you're ready to start off at a light and you catch in your side vision a car or a bicyclist that you didn't see a second ago," he said. Being able to stop after having decided to go can be a lifesaver in that situation.

"So both facilitating and inhibiting behavior is important," he said.

Kramer said the athletes' slower performance on this one task might be the result of a strategic decision they had made to wait and see if the tone sounded before they committed to pressing a key.

"My bet is that the athletes were just learning to read the task a little better," he said. "So if I'm a little slower in going, I'll be a little better at stopping if I need to."

All in all, the new findings add to the evidence that those who spend years training on specific physical tasks tend to also have enhanced cognitive abilities, Kramer said.

"Our understanding is imperfect because we don't know whether these abilities in the athletes were 'born' or 'made,' " he said. "Perhaps people gravitate to these sports because they're good at both. Or perhaps it's the training that enhances their cognitive abilities as well as their physical ones. My intuition is that it's a little bit of both."


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Rush joins elite group of institutions with accredited research programs
2. U.S.A. Hurdle Specialist Kellie Wells has Joined Elite Athletes Tiger Woods, Hines Ward and Takaishi Saito in Using Cell Therapy
3. Cenegenics Atlanta Moves to Premier Location, Joining Elite Tenant Roster List
4. Boston Medical Center awarded elite distinction as a 2012 Leapfrog Top Hospital
5. Hearing Aids Elite Announces Launch of New Blog
6. QuickMedical Announces QM-Elite Nitrile Gloves Available In New 200/Box Money Saving Package
7. Pathways Home Health & Hospice Receives 2012 HomeCare Elite Top Honor for Quality Care
8. Britax Roundabout 55 Gets High Marks from EliteCarSeats.com
9. QuickMedical Introduces New QM-Elite Non-Woven Disposable Face Masks, Shoe Covers, Bouffants and Medical Shorts
10. Ecommerce Software Provider, Shopping Cart Elite Launches Visitor Generated SEO Plugin
11. “We Are Not Worried”, Says Shopping Cart Provider, Shopping Cart Elite in Response to Latest Google Webmaster Guidelines
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Elite athletes also excel at some cognitive tasks
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Healthcare is in flux. The GOP wants ... mass media launching of story movements to highlight what's most unfair about healthcare. ... such a movement can generate the network power to improve healthcare policies in ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... Dickinson Insurance and Financial Services, an ... Rock, has initiated a charity drive to provide support and funding to the ... Hunger, Arkansas ranks first in senior hunger statewide, third in child hunger, and ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... The ... offices headquartered in Jefferson County, is announcing the launch of a charity drive ... The number of homeless women and children in Birmingham has grown steadily since ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Coppin Insurance Agency, an insurance and ... and around the Cape Coral area, is embarking on a charity drive with the ... Florida. , The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida works to provide fresh ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Fort Payne, AL (PRWEB) , ... December 08, ... ... enterprise offering insurance and financial consulting services to residential and commercial clients in ... raise awareness and support for Nobis Works. , Since 1977, Nobis Works has ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)...  EIP Pharma, LLC ( www.eippharma.com ) today ... (previously code named VX-745), with the results of ... demonstrated significant Alzheimer,s disease relevant pharmacological activity.  The ... 303 (6-week treatment) are the subject of presentations ... scientific conference in San Diego, CA ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Dignitana, a world leader in medical scalp-cooling ... creator of the award-winning, patented Boa® system, to produce ... DigniCap® scalp cooling system. DigniCap® was cleared by the ... is the first medical scalp cooling device to receive ... features a patented tight-fitting silicone cooling cap that is ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... SAN DIEGO , Dec. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... dedicated to improving cancer patient care from diagnosis ... the company,s recently completed Phase 1b study in ... at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. ... Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, delivered ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: