What if it turned out that sports weren't just good for your muscles, but also your brain? A recent report released by Scientific Reports Journal suggests that sports can actually improve brain function and make athletes smarter.
The abilities professional athletes display on the field have always puzzled University of Montreal researcher Jocelyn Faubert. "It can't be just physical, there's something about their brains," Faubert said in a statement to LiveScience.
To investigate, Faubert developed the 3D-MOT procedure, a complex motion system that measures the mind's ability to process an action scene. To test it out, Faubert took professional athletes from the English Premier League, National Hockey League and French Top 14 Rugby League, along with 173 elite amateur athletes from the NCAA and European Olympic Training Center, and pitted them against 33 non-athlete university students. The study found that the athletes' brains had greater visual perceptual range and possessed more cognitive abilities than their non-athlete peers.
"Clearly, mental processing and learning skills are key to the excellent performance of the professional athletes," Faubert says. "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."
What's the takeaway from this? All the time you spend preparing and practicing to get better at your sport on the field may in fact help you off the field. While you still need to study for that math test and hit the weights if you want to become a college athlete, know that your training is doing more than improving your physical prowess and is improving you mental power, too.
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