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Jocks beat bookworms on brain test
Date:1/31/2013

This press release is available in French.

English Premier League soccer players, NHL hockey players, France's Top 14 club rugby players, and even elite amateur athletes have better developed cognitive functions than the average university student, according to a perception study undertaken by Professor Jocelyn Faubert of the University of Montreal's School of Optometry. The study demonstrates a possible outcome of the increased cortical thickness that has been found in areas of trained athletes' brains. It also offers researchers new avenues for exploring the treatment of people who have issues with attention, such as the elderly. "Study participants were asked to describe a series of simulated objects moving through three dimensions. Although the context had nothing to do with any specific sport, we found that professional athletes were able to process the visual scenes much better than amateur athletes who were in turn better than the students," Faubert explained. The cognitive requirements for correctly interpreting the abstract moving scenes parallel situations such as driving, crossing the street or, case in point, performing sport. "It would appear that athletes are able to hyper-focus their attention to enhance learning, which is key to their abilities."

The researcher worked with 102 professional players from the groups mentioned above, 173 elite amateur athletes who were recruited from the NCAA American university sports program and a European Olympic training centre, and 33 non-athlete university students. The participants undertook the "3D-MOT" task fifteen times to evaluate several skills that scientists believe are critical to visual perceptual and cognitive abilities when viewing complex scenes: distribution of attention between a number of moving targets amongst distracters, large field of vision, maximum speed of objects that one is
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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