Players & Fans Use Their Heads

Okay sports fans. With the kickoff of college and professional football upon us, a new study from the University of Chicago gives fans a great excuse to do what they do best. Researchers examined the brains of hockey players, fans and people who'd never seen a game to gauge response to sport-specific phrases. The area of the brain associated with planning and controlling actions like executing a slap shot was activated in players and fans, but not the non-fans.

Now you're probably thinking that this is fairly unremarkable. It's as if the non-fans were listening to a foreign language. The interesting part of this study is that mental motor control functions in players and fans were active when the individual had no intention of engaging in any activity. This reveals a relationship between action and learning where playing or watching a sport being played improves overall understanding of language, whether specific to the sport or not.

The Bigger Picture: That part about participating versus watching is the key to realizing maximum value from this new research. If watching is good, playing is better. You'll gain from a real physical workout as well as the mental language primer that may result from the experience. So round up your neighbors for a friendly game of touch football. Then watch your favorite team's season get underway this weekend.
Leave a Comment