1. Ultrasound headset may be new way to recognize concussion on the sidelines

    April 15, 2016 by Ashley

    From the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) media release:

    brain scanMapping blood flow in the brain of athletes using an advanced form of ultrasound may make it easier to more accurately recognize concussions, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, April 15 to 21, 2016.

    “There is growing evidence that concussions can change the blood flow in the brain,” said study author Robert Hamilton, PhD, co-founder of Neural Analytics in Los Angeles, Calif., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “While such changes may be detected with MRI, we believe there may be a less expensive and portable way to measure these changes with a transcranial Doppler (TCD) device.” More than one million athletes experience a concussion each year in the United States. TCD uses ultrasound to map blood flow activity in the brain. Traditionally, it has measured variables like the speed and variability (pulse) of blood flowing through the arteries. But those measurements haven’t been enough to accurately detect concussion.

    For this study, researchers used an advanced version of TCD ultrasound to get a more complete picture of just how the blood moves through the middle cerebral artery, one of the three major arteries in the brain.

    Researchers compared a group of 66 high school athletes in contact sports who had been recently diagnosed with a concussion to a control group of 169 high school student athletes from both contact and non-contact sports. Examples of collision sports included in the study were football, soccer, basketball, hockey, water polo and lacrosse. The non-contact sports included were cheerleading, cross country, cycling, tennis and track. Both the control and concussion groups were approximately 30 percent female.

    Each of the concussed athletes had their brain blood flow measured with the advanced ultrasound headset within an average of six days after the injury. They were also given a general concussion evaluation and had their blood pressure checked.

    The study found that the advanced version of TCD ultrasound was able to differentiate between healthy and concussed athletes 83 percent of the time. This is in contrast to traditional TCD ultrasound measurements like change in cerebral blood flow reactivity which differentiated between the two 60 percent of the time, average blood flow speed which differentiated 55 percent of the time and blood flow resistance which differentiated 53 percent of the time.

    “This research suggests that this advanced form of ultrasound may provide a more accurate diagnosis of concussion,” said Hamilton. “While more research is needed, the hope is such a tool could one day be used on the sidelines to help determine more quickly whether an athlete needs further testing.”

    “This important work provides insight into a tool that may yet prove useful in the recognition and management of concussion,” said Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, FAAN, with the The Sports Neurology Clinic in Brighton, Michigan. “The potential of having an accessible technology that detects a physiological change following brain trauma is very exciting. However, what these detected blood flow changes mean to a patient’s clinical care is still unclear.”

    “This is an important area of research. Testing of the TCD technique at the sideline at the time of injury will be an important next step to determine its ultimate utility,” said Randolph S. Marshall, MD, MS, with Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology’s Science Committee.

    The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.


  2. Breasts putting girls off sport?

    January 26, 2016 by Ashley

    From the University of Portsmouth media release:

    fitnessAbout half of all girls at UK secondary schools might be avoiding sport because of embarrassment or pain caused by their breasts, according to new research.

    The study also found that very few girls knew what sort of bra to wear, whether their bra was a good fit or how to avoid breast pain while exercising.

    The study by researchers in the Research Group in Breast Health based at the University of Portsmouth is the first in the UK to examine the impact of breasts on school girls taking part in sport or exercise. More than 2,000 school girls, aged 11 to 17 years took part.

    It is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

    The researchers are now calling for breast education for all Britain’s school girls.

    Three-quarters of the girls surveyed had at least one concern about their breasts, including embarrassment when getting changed for sport, breast bounce during exercise and breast pain. Their concerns peaked at the age of 14.

    More than half the girls said they never wore a sports bra, and nearly all of them told the researchers they wanted to know more about breast health and breast support.

    Professor Joanna Scurr, who leads the research group, said: “Previous studies of adult women have shown time and again that the same concerns are directly responsible for women no longer taking part in sport or exercise.

    “What makes this worse is, as scientists, we know proper breast support reduces or even eliminates the problems associated with breast movement during sport. All that is needed is better education, preferably at puberty for all girls.”

    It has been estimated that 90 per cent of 14-year-old girls in the UK do not do enough exercise to meet government exercise guidelines.

    Professor Scurr added: “Puberty is undoubtedly a difficult time for children of both sexes, but more girls than boys drop out of sport around this age. Even for those who overcome their physical embarrassment or awkwardness, the bra marketplace can be overwhelming and confusing.”

    The research group is made up of researchers from three universities (Portsmouth, St Mary’s Twickenham and Chichester). The group is internationally renowned for research on the biomechanics of the breast, and is responsible for more than half of all the scientific publications in the area.

    Amanda Brasher is a member of the research group and is leading the project to raise awareness in schools.

    She said: “The research showed that the more concerns school girls have about their breasts, the less they exercise. We want to keep as many girls as possible involved in sport and exercise. With the right education we can alleviate many of the girls’ worries, reduce embarrassment and eliminate the breast as a barrier to sports participation.”

    Research by the group has shown that using the appropriate sports bra reduces breast pain for most women, regardless of breast size, and that many women are unaware that they are wearing a badly fitting bra or routinely purchase ill-fitting bras. Breasts change in size and shape throughout a woman’s life.

    Dr Nicola Brown, from St Mary’s University Twickenham said: “It is surprising how few women are aware of which bra is right for them, and the importance of good breast support.”

    Other findings included:

    – 15 per cent of the girls thought their breasts were too big to be able to exercise;

    – those with larger breasts (D-cup plus) are more likely to opt out of sport and exercise than those with smaller breasts;

    – Only 10 per cent always wore a sports bra when exercising;

    – Even those who took part in a lot of sport, and always wore a sports bra, said they didn’t know if their bra was the right fit for them;

    – 87 per cent wanted to know more about breast health and support.

    Studies have shown that breasts move during exercise by up to 21cms in a figure of eight pattern, causing pain for an estimated three-quarters of women. A sports bra can reduce breast movement by a similar amount for AA cup to G-cup breasts. If breast movement is not reduced, there is a risk of irreparably damaging the fragile Cooper’s ligaments, resulting in breast sag.

    Dr Jenny Smith, one of the authors and a chartered psychologist from the University of Chichester, said: ‘It is important that we help reduce the barriers associated with participating in physical activity to help encourage behaviour change.”

    The researchers are appealing for funding to develop resources for schools to provide breast health education for their pupils.


  3. Less physically mature ice hockey players have prolonged concussion symptoms

    January 25, 2016 by Ashley

    From the Lifespan media release:

    doctor_guiltA study led by a Hasbro Children’s Hospital sports medicine physician found that male student ice hockey players in earlier pubertal stages had a significantly increased risk of prolonged symptoms from concussion compared with advanced pubertal and postpubescent players.

    Research by Peter Kriz, M.D., found that less physically mature players took on average 54 days — 21 days or nearly 40 percent longer — to recover compared to more physically mature players. Kriz said the findings further highlight the need for student athletes in collision sports to compete with similar-aged players and that there is risk in having younger, more talented athletes “play up” on varsity teams.

    “Unlike other contact-collision scholastic sports with a high incidence of concussion, high school ice hockey lacks stratification by age grouping, largely because of prohibitive costs associated with equipment, transportation and ice time incurred with fielding varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams,” said Kriz. “Consequently, it’s not uncommon at the varsity level for younger, less physically mature players to oppose older players with increased strength, power and speed.”

    The study, currently published online in The Journal of Pediatrics, assessed disparities in age, size, and physical maturity level among concussed adolescent ice hockey players 13 to18 years of age, and was performed at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and South Shore Hospital, in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Additionally, the study also found that lighter weight among males and heavier weight among females increased the probability of experiencing prolonged concussion.

    Concussion has been reported to be the most common youth ice hockey injury, representing more than 15 percent of all injuries in nine to 16-year-old players and nearly 25 percent of injuries among male high school players.

    The study’s results challenge recent opinion, which has suggested that collision sport participation be postponed until freshman year or 14 years of age. “Sixty-five percent of freshman male ice hockey players in our study were in early stages of pubertal development and none were postpubertal,” said Kriz.

    The findings also support concerns within the youth athletic community that adolescents might have longer recoveries from concussions than adults.

    “Our findings have important implications for policy decisions related to grouping for high school ice hockey players,” explained Kriz. “While economic considerations often dictate whether a school fields ice hockey teams other than varsity, we support, at the very least, the establishment of junior varsity ice hockey by state interscholastic leagues for the purposes of player development and improved safety for undersized, peripubertal male players.”

    Additionally, policies pertaining to high school football and boys’ lacrosse — two other collision sports which commonly permit underclassmen to “play up” on varsity teams — may ultimately be impacted by these findings, as lighter, less physically mature players may be at risk of prolonged concussion symptoms.

    Kriz recommends that, until further studies determine valid physical maturity indicators, arbitrary age and grade cutoffs should not be used to determine when adolescent athletes are ready to participate in collision sports.

    “Until such studies are available, collision-sport high school athletes should play in leagues grouped by relative age,” said Kriz. “Highly-skilled, peripubertal collision sport athletes should also be discouraged from ‘playing up’ at the varsity level with post-pubertal competitors three to four years their senior.”

    In accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kriz encourages youth hockey organizations to provide the option of non-checking divisions for players who remain in earlier stages of pubertal development, players who are undersized, players who have significant concussion histories precluding them from participating in collision sport participation or for players 13 years old or younger seeking safer alternatives to body checking leagues.


  4. Blood test identifies brain damage from concussion in ice hockey

    by Ashley

    From the Expertsvar media release:

    football playersHalf way into last year’s season, 35 of 288 players in the Swedish Hockey League had already had a concussion.

    Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, who surveyed all of the players in the league’s 12 clubs, have now developed a method that can show just an hour after the injury how severe the concussion is, if there is a risk of long-term symptoms and about when the player can return to the game.

    Between September and December of the 2012/2013 season alone, 35 of 288 players in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) had had a concussion — in three cases, it was so severe that the player was knocked unconscious.

    These were the findings of researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, who monitored and examined all of the players in the Sweden’s top hockey league in cooperation with Luleå University of Technology.

    The goal of the unique study was to find safer methods of diagnosing sports-related brain injuries, and to obtain a better basis for decisions about when the player can return to the game.

    In the study, the players who had a concussion were asked to provide repeated blood samples, directly after the concussion and during the ensuing days. The results were compared with the pre-season samples from two full teams.

    This way, Professor Henrik Zetterberg and his colleagues could show that a special nerve cell protein, called tau, at elevated levels in the blood is a marker of concussion.

    By measuring the tau levels in a regular blood test, the researchers could say how severe the concussion was just one hour after the injury, and with a high level of certainty could predict which players would have long-term symptoms and thereby needed to rest longer.

    “In ice hockey and other contact sports, repeated concussions are common, where the brain has not finished healing after the first blow. This kind of injury is particularly dangerous, but there have not been any methods for monitoring how a concussion in an athlete heals,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

    Henrik Zetterberg is among the world’s leading brain researchers and has conducted research on concussions in sports for many years and in numerous studies. According to Zetterberg, the new findings are not only relevant to ice hockey, but to all sports where there is a risk of head injuries.

    In contact sports like ice hockey, boxing and American football, concussions are a growing international problem. The stakes for the individual athlete are high, and the list of players forced to quit with life-long injury is getting ever longer,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

    “We hope that this method will be developed into a clinical tool for club physicians and others in sports medicine, and is used as a basis for the decision on how long the player should rest after a blow to the head,” says Henrik Zetterberg. “It could even be used in general in emergency medical care to diagnose brain damage from concussions regardless of how they happened.”

    The study was conducted in cooperation with researchers at the Luleå University of Technology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the US biotech firm Quanterix Corporation.

    Yelverton Tegner, a researcher at Luleå University of Technology and also physician for the Swedish national women’s football team, is positive:

    Our goal is to have a working kit that can be used for diagnostics in hospitals, and perhaps also at rink side in stadiums immediately when someone got a concussion.”


  5. Less physically mature ice hockey players have prolonged concussion symptoms

    January 21, 2016 by Ashley

    From the Lifespan media release:

    hospital emergency signA study led by a Hasbro Children’s Hospital sports medicine physician found that male student ice hockey players in earlier pubertal stages had a significantly increased risk of prolonged symptoms from concussion compared with advanced pubertal and postpubescent players.

    Research by Peter Kriz, M.D., found that less physically mature players took on average 54 days — 21 days or nearly 40 percent longer — to recover compared to more physically mature players. Kriz said the findings further highlight the need for student athletes in collision sports to compete with similar-aged players and that there is risk in having younger, more talented athletes “play up” on varsity teams.

    “Unlike other contact-collision scholastic sports with a high incidence of concussion, high school ice hockey lacks stratification by age grouping, largely because of prohibitive costs associated with equipment, transportation and ice time incurred with fielding varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams,” said Kriz. “Consequently, it’s not uncommon at the varsity level for younger, less physically mature players to oppose older players with increased strength, power and speed.”

    The study, currently published online in The Journal of Pediatrics, assessed disparities in age, size, and physical maturity level among concussed adolescent ice hockey players 13 to 18 years of age, and was performed at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and South Shore Hospital, in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Additionally, the study also found that lighter weight among males and heavier weight among females increased the probability of experiencing prolonged concussion.

    Concussion has been reported to be the most common youth ice hockey injury, representing more than 15 percent of all injuries in nine to 16-year-old players and nearly 25 percent of injuries among male high school players.

    The study’s results challenge recent opinion, which has suggested that collision sport participation be postponed until freshman year or 14 years of age. “Sixty-five percent of freshman male ice hockey players in our study were in early stages of pubertal development and none were postpubertal,” said Kriz.

    The findings also support concerns within the youth athletic community that adolescents might have longer recoveries from concussions than adults.

    “Our findings have important implications for policy decisions related to grouping for high school ice hockey players,” explained Kriz. “While economic considerations often dictate whether a school fields ice hockey teams other than varsity, we support, at the very least, the establishment of junior varsity ice hockey by state interscholastic leagues for the purposes of player development and improved safety for undersized, peripubertal male players.”

    Additionally, policies pertaining to high school football and boys’ lacrosse — two other collision sports which commonly permit underclassmen to “play up” on varsity teams — may ultimately be impacted by these findings, as lighter, less physically mature players may be at risk of prolonged concussion symptoms.

    Kriz recommends that, until further studies determine valid physical maturity indicators, arbitrary age and grade cutoffs should not be used to determine when adolescent athletes are ready to participate in collision sports.

    “Until such studies are available, collision-sport high school athletes should play in leagues grouped by relative age,” said Kriz. “Highly-skilled, peripubertal collision sport athletes should also be discouraged from ‘playing up’ at the varsity level with post-pubertal competitors three to four years their senior.”

    In accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kriz encourages youth hockey organizations to provide the option of non-checking divisions for players who remain in earlier stages of pubertal development, players who are undersized, players who have significant concussion histories precluding them from participating in collision sport participation or for players 13 years old or younger seeking safer alternatives to body checking leagues.


  6. Study suggests testosterone levels increase when competing against rivals but not against friends

    May 24, 2013 by Ashley

    From the University of Missouri press release via EurekAlert!:

    Sports FanSporting events can bring a community together, such as when the Louisville Cardinals won the NCAA championship and University of Louisville campus was filled with camaraderie. They also can fuel bitter rivalries, such as the long-standing animosity between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

    A new University of Missouri study has found that testosterone levels during group competition are modulated depending on the relationships among the competitors and may be related to the formation of alliances in warfare.

    “One interesting thing about humans is that we are the only animal that competes in teams,” said Mark Flinn, professor of anthropology at MU. “Our hormonal reactions while competing are part of how we evolved as a cooperative species. What we found in our study is that although male’s testosterone levels increase when men are victorious against strangers or rivals, levels of the hormone tend to stay the same when competing against friends.”

    Flinn and his research team studied males from varying age groups on the island of Dominica while they played dominoes or cricket. Flinn found that when males competed against a group outside of their community, their testosterone levels rose during and after competition if they won, but diminished following a defeat. However, when males competed with their friends, their testosterone levels did not change in response to victory or defeat.

    Competing in sport coalitions can raise testosterone levels in males, but males don’t have to be competing in order to see a rise in testosterone. Flinn says that when watching a favorite sport team the viewer is a part of a coalition of fans in the community and can also get a rise in testosterone levels while watching games.

    “For example, when MU plays the University of Kansas, males will probably have a huge increase of testosterone during the game and afterwards if their team is victorious,” Flinn said. “At the same time we can create a coalition of fans while attending the game and bond together during the event.”

    Flinn suggests that coalitions may have had important effects on the evolution of human social psychology.

    The fascinating thing about humans is that whether we are watching or playing the sport, we have the ability to put interactions among the whole team in our heads,” Flinn said. “That just shows how complex our social psychology is. For example, a hockey or basketball player can anticipate how his teammates are going to react when he passes to each one of them and predict the outcome. The ability for humans to be able to do that is pretty astonishing.”

    Members of Flinn’s research team include Davide Ponzi, now a postdoctorate at the University of Chicago, and Michael Muehlenbein, associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University.

     


  7. Study suggests emphasizing academic abilities may help fight stereotypes about jocks

    April 29, 2013 by Ashley

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    basketballCollege coaches who emphasize their players’ academic abilities may be the best defense against the effects of “dumb jock” stereotypes, a Michigan State University study suggests.

    Researchers found that student-athletes were significantly more likely to be confident in the classroom if they believed their coaches expected high academic performance, not just good enough grades to be eligible for sports.

    Coaches spend a lot of time with their players, and they can play such an important role to build academic confidence in student-athletes,” said lead author Deborah Feltz, University Distinguished Professor of kinesiology at MSU.

    Published in the Journal of College Student Development, the study focused on the concept of “stereotype threat.” The theory holds that stereotypes are self-fulfilling prophecies: They create anxiety in the stereotyped group, causing them to behave in the expected way.

    Feltz and her graduate students wanted to see what factors influence student-athletes’ susceptibility to the “dumb jock” stereotype.

    It’s well-documented in the literature that many student-athletes hear prejudicial remarks from professors who say things like, ‘This test is easy enough that even an athlete could pass it,’” Feltz said. “They’re kind of the last group of students who can be openly discriminated against.”

    The researchers surveyed more than 300 student-athletes representing men’s and women’s teams from small and large universities and a range of sports, from basketball and football to cross-country and rowing.

    They found the more strongly student-athletes identified themselves as athletes, the less confident they were with their academic skills, and the more keenly they felt that others expected them to do poorly in school. Players in high-profile sports were more likely to feel they were weak students.

    Feltz said the data suggest that coaches who put a premium on education may be in the best position to boost their players’ confidence in the classroom, but professors, academic advisers and classmates also have a part to play.

    “They don’t have to do much,” she said. “It may be enough to just remind players they are college students, which is a big deal, you know? A lot of these students are the first in their family to go to college.”

     

     


  8. Study suggests college athletes twice as likely to have depression than retired collegiate athletes

    April 7, 2013 by Ashley

    From the Georgetown University Medical Center press release via EurekAlert!:

    football diagramA survey of current and former college athletes finds depression levels significantly higher in current athletes, a result that upended the researchers’ hypothesis. The finding published in Sports Health suggests the need for more research to understand depression among college athletes.

    We expected to see a significant increase in depression once athletes graduated, but by comparison it appears the stress of intercollegiate athletics may be more significant than we and others anticipated,” says the study’s senior investigator Daniel Merenstein, MD, an associate professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and in the department of human science in the School of Nursing & Health Studies.

    While no research exists on depression in athletes who have recently graduated from college, the researchers hypothesized that the changes in lifestyle and loss of personal identity would put former college athletes at an increased risk for depression.

    College athletes often derive their personal identity from their sport, focusing a lot of their time on athletics in college,” the study authors write. “They are often surrounded by other athletes and frequently have an athletic identity from their peers who recognize them on campus as an athlete.”

    The authors also point out that after college athletics, there is a loss of social support from teammates, coaches and advisors, and that former athletes may not maintain peak physical condition — all possible factors for depression.

    To examine their hypothesis, the researchers sent surveys to 663 athletes; 163 former and 117 current athletes from nine different universities took part in the study. All had participated in Division I NCAA sponsored sports. Graduated athletes represented 15 different sports and current athletes represented 10.

    The analysis of the surveys revealed that nearly 17 percent of current college athletes had scores consistent with depression — double that of retired college athletes (eight percent).

    Merenstein, a family medicine physician, and his colleagues suggest that stressors experienced by college athletes such as overtraining, injury, pressure to perform, lack of free time or stress from schoolwork could contribute to increased susceptibility to depression.

    “College in general is a potentially stressful time for many students. The additional stress of playing high-level sports appears to add to that stress,” he says.

    Merenstein advises parents, friends and coaches to be aware of changes in behavior, weight and sleep of college athletes, and of all students.


  9. Study examines cognitive abilities of elite athletes

    March 19, 2013 by Ashley

    From the University of Illinois press release:

    DSI Image of human BrainNew 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.”

     


  10. Study suggests adding movement to mental rehearsal can improve performance

    February 28, 2013 by Ashley

    From the Biomed press release via ScienceDaily:

    athlete preparationAdding movement to mental rehearsal can improve performance, finds a study in BioMed Central’s open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions. For high jumpers the study shows that dynamic imagery improves the number of successful attempts and the technical performance of jumps.

    The technique of mental rehearsal is used to consolidate performance in many disciplines including music and sport. Motor imagery and physical practice use overlapping neural networks in the brain and the two together can improve performance as well as promoting recovery from injury. Researchers from the Centre de Recherche et d’Innovation sur le Sport found that adding simple movements to mental rehearsal could further improve performance by a third.

    When they looked at the rates of ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ for high jumpers taught to use either internal visual imagery or external visual imagery (such as mimicking the arm movements during the jump), the researchers found that while mental rehearsal improved performance by 35%, mental rehearsal plus ‘dry run’ movements increased performance by 45%. Dynamic imagery scored the highest for all measured aspects of the jump including approach, curve, impulsion, and bar clearance. It also shortened the number of jumps required

    Prof Aymeric Guillot, who led the study, said, “Our study on high jumpers suggests that dynamic imagery may provide a training edge to professional and amateur athletes. This technique may also be of use to people in other disciplines where ‘dry run’ rehearsals are routinely used.”