The Brain’s Of Athletes Are Healthier And Hear Better

Nina Kraus is a neurobiologist working from a laboratory at Northwestern University referred to as “Brainvolts.” Kraus and her colleagues have recently gained attention for the things they have learned from attaching electrodes to the scalp of individuals to measure the electricity their brains produce when a sound is heard.

Kraus says the electricity produced by the brain can be played through a speaker to determine if the brain is performing well. Kraus says it is also possible to get a clear picture of the overall health of the brain by performing this exercise.

Kraus explains the brain is likely to display less neural static when exposed to a rich environment of sound that stimulates the brain with music and language.

Individuals who grew up with environments that did not provide a rich sound experience are likely to possess brains that generate excessive noise. This noise may actually interfere with the brain’s ability to process audio input received.

Kraus explains the brain’s thirst for activity causes it to generate its own noise when not enough stimulation is received. The problem is the random, static-filled sounds the brain generates in these situations interferes with the ability to process real-world sound.

Recent science suggests that sports participation affects the ability to properly hear.

Kraus and her team discussed findings in the Sports Health Journal that the brains of athletes create less static than their non-athletic counterparts.

Kraus elaborates on the findings by explaining the brains of elite athletes have the ability to quiet the static so that they can hear things like play calls and instructions from their coaches.

Dr. Richard Isaacson is a director at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic. Isaacson says the findings by Kraus and her team are intriguing.

Isaacson was not directly involved in the study but surmises the work by Kraus involves more than the effect of physical and cardiovascular fitness on the brain. It shows the brain develops its own fitness level also. Isaacson would like to see the work by Kraus expanded to include multiple universities and different types of sports.

The work by Kraus started a year ago and includes a five-year study into the brain’s ability for neurological processing after suffering a concussion. Kraus and her team seek to use sound analysis after a concussion to determine from a biological standpoint when the injured athlete is ready to return to their sport.

So far, Krauss has seen similar brain results for athletes of both genders across all sports.


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