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Brainy Athletes

April 17, 2013

Olympic-level athletes have some enhanced cognitive abilities.



Olympic-level thinking.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Elite athletes have an enhanced mental agility that matches their physical prowess.  This according to a study led by University of Illinois cognitive neuroscientist Art Kramer.  He and graduate student Heloise Alves studied Brazilian volleyball players training for the Olympics.  Compared to closely matched non-athletes, the Olympians performed better on a variety of mental challenges, like remembering the locations of items on a computer screen.

ART KRAMER (University of Illinois):

We also found benefits for a number of other tasks that measure aspects of executive control, things like planning, scheduling, dealing with ambiguity, and multitasking.

Many of these abilities obviously apply to volleyball.  It’s not clear whether the athletic training itself developed these mental muscles, but Kramer’s trying to find out if physical conditioning can improve sedentary adults’ cognitive performance. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Elite athletes may get cognitive benefits from their training. (Jupiter Images)