Tag Archives: sports and neuroscience

Basketball And The BAM Project

via Axon Sports

Imagine an NCAA basketball coach trying to create a game plan for their first March Madness game with absolutely no video footage of their upcoming opponent.  Sure, he has their roster with player names, height/weight and positions.  He also has a set of specific stats that show the performance of each player and the team during the season.  Yet, there is no opportunity to see the team play as a unit, how they move the ball, or their communication.  The resulting game strategy would be full of educated guesses and assumptions based on just the macro picture of the roster and the micro world of data and statistics. Welcome to the …

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Practice Makes Perfect, Thanks To Plasticity

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As kids, once we have mastered the complex motor skill of riding a bicycle, we’re told that its a lifelong skill that we’ll never forget.  Getting all of the moving parts of human and machine in sync with each other becomes a collective memory that can be called on from age 6 to 60.  Which is surprising, knowing that names, numbers and recent locations of car keys can be so easily forgotten.  What makes motor skills stick in our brains, ready to be called on at anytime?  According to two teams of cognitive science researchers, we can thank a property called neuroplasticity which actually changes the structure of our brain as …

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Controlling Movement Is Your Brain’s Only Purpose

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Daniel Wolpert is absolutely certain about one thing.  “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements,” stated Wolpert, Director of the Computational and Biological Learning Lab at the University of Cambridge.  “Movement is the only way you have of affecting the world around you.”  After that assertive opening to his 2011 TED Talk, he reported that, despite this important purpose, we have a long way to go in understanding of how exactly the brain controls our movements. The evidence for this is in how well we’ve learned to mimic our movements using computers and robots.  For example, take the game …

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How Your Brain Manages Muscle Fatigue

via Axon Sports

Endurance athletes, both competitive and weekend warriors, know the feeling. Out on a long run or bike ride, their muscles start to feel a lot heavier the closer they get to their training distance goal.  While it makes sense that your muscles would get more tired the longer you go, sometimes it feels as if your brain is convincing you not to have any illusions of going past the agreed upon training distance.  Now, researchers at the University of Zurich have discovered that there is a control valve mechanism in the brain that actually decreases muscle performance and sends increased fatigue signals to your conscious mind to provide overload protection for …

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The Synapse – Music, Sleep And A Used Putter

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In this week’s edition of Synapse, we take a look at three new research studies that could boost your budding superstar’s performance by listening to music, taking a nap or even borrowing your favorite PGA golfer’s putter.

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NFL Teams Are Really Listening To Andrew Luck

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For the second half of this NFL season, the only silver lining in several losing teams’ dark clouds is an early round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.  A chance to start over with a top college quarterback like Andrew Luck just might be the turning point for a franchise. To get ready for the draft, hundreds of hours of game film can be broken down to grade player performance with X’s and O’s.  Objective athletic tests at the NFL Scouting Combine rank the NCAA football draftees by speed and strengths, just as the infamous Wonderlic intelligence test tries to rank their brain power. However, despite all of this data, coaches …

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The Synapse – Video Games, Building Blocks and Your Brain’s Dark Energy

via Axon Sports

To get your budding superstar ready for his sports future, should they play with high tech video games or good old building blocks?  Well, according to two new studies, that depends on if you’re training their creativity or their spatial awareness.  Also, in our weekly round-up of brain science news, we find out about our brain’s “default-mode network” which manages our brain’s neurons when trying to focus on an object. For most sports, athletes require the ability to quickly make sense of their surroundings, then to be creative in their reaction to this ever changing environment.  Developing these dual skills often starts in the early years with non-sport activities. Nora Newcombe, …

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The Synapse – Brainspotting, Exercise for Migraines, and Learning Motor Skills

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Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Axon Potential, The Synapse, which will be your  connection to the latest Athletic Brain news and research. Brainspotting – A Promising Treatment for Sports Trauma During a game with the Atlanta Braves in 1990, Mets catcther Mackey Sasser was on the receiving end of collision at home plate with a Braves base-runner. Shortly after, he began an peculiar habit of double-clutching on his throws back to the pitcher. He tried traditional physical therapy, psychological counseling and other methods to stop this subconscious habit. He turned to Dr. David Grand who had created a new neurobehavioral treatment he called brainspotting or BSP. As described …

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Neuroplasticity, Divers and the Athletic Brain

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Our last post here centered on neuroplasticity and the way that training creates real, visible changes in the brains of athletes.  We referenced a study of Chinese professional divers, who showed enlargement in certain brain areas associated with learning and processing movement.  Back in March, Wired magazine did a nice story summarizing the research: In a new study published last month in PLoS ONE, a research team led by Jing Luo from the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences compared the brains of elite divers to those who were not involved in intense physical training or professional sport. To offset the chances that differences found deep within the …

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What causes the yips?

via Axon Sports

At the wrap-up of the British Open, it seems a good time to examine one of the more interesting problems at the intersection of psychology, biomechanics and neuroscience: the yips. The yips are a general term for the erosion of a common, and previously easy skill. The most prominent examples typically come from golf, when we see a great player lose the ability to drain two and three foot putts, while the rest of his game remains completely intact. For a long time, it was assumed that the yips were a purely psychological phenomenon, linked to a loss of confidence, over-thinking and anxiety. This explanation matches up with a lot of …

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