Don’t lose your brain

A Losing Battle

Washington Post

  • “…University, education professor and sports psychologist Leonard Zaichkowsky is helping to conduct a study of how elite athletes’ brain chemistry responds to winning and losing. Zaichkowsky will partner with Canadian sports psychologist Hap Davis, an adviser to…
  • Davis, with the help of cognitive neuroscientist Mario Liotti at Simon Fraser University, studied the brains of 14 swimmers who failed to make the 2004 Canadian Olympic team. As the swimmers watched clips of themselves failing, the parahippocampus, the area implicated in cases of severe depression, lit up. In other words, the brain of an elite athlete who has lost “really resembles the head of a depressed person,” Zaichkowsky says. Also, the premotor cortex, the region that plans motor actions, appeared inhibited. This suggested that athletes who have lost might have a tendency to perform poorly again — potentially leading to what we would call a “slump.”

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