The Brain Since Elite Athletes Versus Novices Essay

The Brain Since Elite Athletes Versus Novices Essay

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The brain changes in elite athletes versus novices

Problem to be investigated:
Billions of pathways become active in the brain every time someone feels, thinks, or does something. Every time a particular task is practiced, or a particular emotion is felt, these pathways are strengthened and the activity becomes easier to be performed. However, when someone thinks differently, learns a new task, or feels a new emotion, a new pathway begins to develop. The more a new action, thought, or feeling is repeated, the easier it is for it to become second nature. The brain is rewired as old pathways weaken and new connections are formed. We therefore will investigate differences in brain function of elite athletes in comparison to that of novices.

Review of the literature:
The brain continues to reorganize itself throughout life by forming new neural connections. Through the process of neuroplasticity, the neurons in the brain can compensate for injury and modify their activity in response to new conditions or changes in their environment. Undamaged axons sprout new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were damaged in a process called “axonal sprouting,” which allows brain reorganization to occur. Undamaged axons can also grow new nerve endings to connect with other undamaged nerve cells to form neural pathways. By reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons, the brain compensates for damage caused by exposure to unfamiliar settings or environments. “Brain plasticity” refers to these structural changes in the neural organization.
The term “plasticity” in neurosciences was first introduced in 1906 by an Italian psychiatrist Ernesto Lugano [1]. During the last decade, there have been numerous studies highlight...

... middle of paper ...

...of signals from hand to brain “not only changes or shuts down the neuronal activity in that micro-region, but also leads to rearrangement of the linkages among the neurons themselves” [16].
The medial nerve was cut in one experiment, and in a more extreme intervention, the middle finger served by that nerve was amputated. As a result, the corresponding brain area became inactive. However, some months later, that area was remapped in the monkey and “found to respond (light up the MRI image) to stimuli in adjacent areas of the hand served either by the radial or by the ulnar nerve” [15]. The neurons no longer receiving signals from the “medial nerve had been appropriated by the networks responding to signals from the other, still functioning nerves” [16]. In the adult monkey brain, unused neuronal processing capacity was reassigned over a short period of time [16].

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