Hmm, not sure about this

From studying just under 1,000 student athletes, around half at the elite Division One level, the athletes were able to ignore electrical noise in the brain in order to better process external sounds such as a teammate or coach giving instructions.

The study’s author, Nina Kraus of Northwestern University said: “No one would argue against the fact that sports lead to better physically fitness, but we don’t always think of brain fitness and sports.

“We’re saying that playing sports can tune the brain to better understand one’s sensory environment.”

“A serious commitment to physical activity seems to track with a quieter nervous system,” Kraus said. “And perhaps, if you have a healthier nervous system, you may be able to better handle injury or other health problems.”

College level athletes in the US are usually pretty good. This is a lot more selective that peeps turning out for the college third team in the UK.

How much of this is going to be because people at that level of anything are pretty good at concentrating?

9 thoughts on “Hmm, not sure about this”

  1. The underlying article is claiming that the brain can be trained to reduce the background noise. They acknowledge the possibility that causation might be reversed, but note that children from lower socio economic status (SES) who are exposed to more noise and have poorer nutrition have more brain noise than children from higher SES, which supports a healthier = less noise view (causation might still be iffy in this example, if more noise is genetic which led to lower SES for example). They are keen to for more to be done to resolve the causation question.

  2. Mothers. Along with the insanity that comes with late pregnancy and early motherhood is a sharpening of the hearing. Mum will always hear the baby so much as whimper. Dad will just lie there snoring. Mum will not believe he didn’t hear, she thinks he’s feigning sleep to dodge his turn.

    This effect is not related to any socio-economic group low enough not to have servants. Nor to athletic ability.

  3. From what I’ve seen of the sporting fraternity, the brain noise they’re trying to eliminate is intelligent thought.

  4. Hmm. We know that black cab drivers who have gained The Knowledge have measurably differently developed brains to non-cabbies. And some while ago there was a piece on the Beeb, R4 probably, about how F1 drivers are able to process visual stimuli much faster than normies.

    Still, chicken or egg?

  5. Concentration. We all tune out distraction. Why should it be a surprise that there is a physiological/neurological component to that? Nor that if you train enough that brain filter might become as habitual and built-in as muscle memory or any other sort of strength and coordination?

  6. Philip Scott Thomas


    Yes. And it’s not surprising. Learning any new subject or task involves laying down new neural pathways. Done to a sufficiently large enough degree, we should expect to see detectable changes in brain performance.

  7. There was an Australian study on tennis players using eye tracking and other systems that looked at receiving serves.
    At the higher level the point at which the brain predicted the serve based on servers body movements/positioning and started to react could be up to half a second quicker than an amateur player.
    Shows the focus involved and concentration, did a similar study with ice hockey goalies that found something similar in that they were reacting to a shot just before it was hit rather then when it was taken

  8. @Philip Scott Thomas

    F1 and other >200mph like TT & Ulster GP – one learns to process the information faster whilst climbing the ladder to their limit

    One thing I noticed first few times at >160mph on bike was tunnel vision and almost B&W – this reduced with experience


    Cricket too, batsman “predicts” from bowler’s movements

    Any studies on Squash players?

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