What Makes the Athlete’s Brain Unique?

Neuroscience is finally probing the athlete’s brain to find out exactly what makes athletes unique compared to the average individual. For a long time an athlete’s success was attributed entirely to their physicality. Scientists now realize that the brain of elite athletes differ from both novice athletes and non-athletes in very specific ways.

1. More Myelin:

Myelin is an insulating sheath that forms around nerve fibers in the brain. It is essential for proper brain functioning, and helps nerve impulses travel quickly and efficiently throughout the brain. Recent research suggests that athletes have more myelin in their brains than the average individual, allowing for optimal brain communication and circuitry. As a nerve is repeatedly stimulated, say when you are constantly playing catch, the thicker the myelin around that nerve becomes. Thicker myelin results in the faster and more accurate transmission of brain signals. This is important for athletes who require quick thinking and fast reactions to remain at the top of their game.

2. Stronger Cerebellum:

The cerebellum is the area of the brain that is responsible for controlling and coordinating movement. Therefore it makes sense that elite athletes would have stronger and more efficient cerebellums than the average individual. Researchers studied speed skaters, who require exceptional balance and coordination, to see if their cerebellums differed from the average individual. Speed skaters always go counterclockwise around the track and spend much more balanced time on their right foot. Researchers found that the right side of the cerebellum was larger in speed skaters due to the fact that they are constantly balancing on their right side. Researchers have also found that athletes have a stronger connection of neurons in their cerebellums compared to non-athletes.

3. Brain Efficiency:

The majority of athletes perform under high-stress conditions, with very little time to think about their actions. They must process information and incoming stimuli quickly, and respond accurately and effectively. Therefore it makes sense that neuroscientists have found that athlete’s brains tend to work more efficiently in regards to motor responses and coordination than the average person. When athletes and non-athletes were asked to complete the same motor tasks, they found that the athlete’s brain was quitter than the non-athlete. This means that the athlete required less brain activity to complete the task because their brains were working more efficiently. Athlete’s brains are optimized to work quickly and efficiently under a certain set of conditions.

4. Larger Midbrain:

The midbrain is the area of the brain concerned with motivation, reward learning and the reinforcement of behavior. It is also responsible for relaying information from the visual, auditory and motor systems. For the past 20 years researchers have been selectively breeding mice that loved to exercise. They have found that these mice have midbrains that are 13% larger compared to the control mice. So while scientists can’t confidently extrapolate these findings to humans, it does suggest that the midbrains of athletes may differ from the average person.

The Qball is a unique tool that was specifically designed to help train an athlete’s brain. Consistent use of the Qball can lead to improved hand-eye coordination, focus, reaction time and mental processing speed – all important aspects of athletics. The Qball can help teach the brain how to communicate quickly and efficiently, while giving you the skills you need to excel at any sport.


Comments

  1. Hello,
    I am wondering if you can assist me with information to help my 7 yr old son.
    We have just been to a paediatric eye specialist as he has been having difficulty with blurred vision for board copying and at intermittent times.
    The Dr has said his brain is processing too fast at times for the ocular long to cope with causing temporary blurred vision.
    He also mentioned they see this sometimes in elite athletes.
    Have you heard of it and do you have any information on how to assist.
    Thank you
    Kind Regards

    1. Author

      Hi. Not sure I can help, but here are some things to consider. First, when we track a ball or moving object we are not doing it instantaneously. Our brains are too slow. What happens is that our brains compensate for the slow processing by predicting the movement and intercepting it in order to say catch a ball. This appears to be a problem with your son. Training may help. Have him bounce and catch balls repeatedly until his brain sorts out the process. The human brain is remarkable. If you do exercises that challenge it, it will rewire itself in the appropriate way. If your son’s processing speed is fast, which you seem to imply, this may turn out to be a big asset. All that may be required is to learn how to control and use that extra speed. I hope this helps. Kind regards, Bobby.

Leave a Comment