NeuroSports- from lab bench to weight bench: the brain runs it all.
What follows, is a prelude to the conference report, which will be released in installments. Patience is a virtue, after all (I should know- I have none:)!
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- As the first academic society of its kind, Society for NeuroSports is dedicated to the interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of exercise science and neuroscience.
- Hitherto, the complex interplay between cognition and exercise vis-à-vis human performance has played second fiddle to other areas of research. The Society for NeuroSports bucks the trend- or perhaps, even more accurately, sets a new one!
The 2019 Inaugural Society for NeuroSports Conference in Deerfield Beach brought together some of the most prominent names in sports neuroscience, attracting highly erudite speakers and cerebrally inclined attendees from the parts of the world as remote as Canada, Australia and Europe.
In order to break down the silos, the Society for NeuroSports invites sport neuroscience academics and practitioners to join them on the exciting journey from 'lab bench to exercise bench'. They had me at 'bench'- twice!
From Lab Bench...
When asked about his training protocol, Dr Bruce Ames from University of Berkley California once quipped that an exercise regimen for scientists typically revolves around running experiments, skipping controls and jumping to conclusions
Whilst the situation might not be quite that dire, there is a grain of truth in every joke. In this clearly humorous statement, Dr Ames highlighted the disconnect between the science and in-the-trenches application thereof.
Today’s society appears to have a rather ambivalent relationship with scientific research. On the one hand, a lot of people are distrustful of studies in general (unless, of course, the findings back up their preconceived ideas), resulting in a weird amalgam of skepticism (good!) and confirmation bias (not so good)!
Okay, but let’s not turn this into an epistemological treatise. If you managed to read all the way down to this point, chances are that you enjoy getting pounded on the head with a good, old-fashioned study galore at least from time to time!
But even if you claim to be the last, true PubMed OG with ‘do you even science, bro?’ tattooed across your chest, I am sure you can appreciate interdisciplinary discussions with equally off-the-charts- intelligent individuals outside of your echo-chamber.
And that is precisely where the Society for NeuroSports comes in. As the only academic society in the relatively uncharted field of sports neuroscience, it offers a platform for passionate scientists and practitioners with an interest in furthering research-based athletic performance and brain health.
...to weight bench
We have facts,’ they say. But facts are not everything—at least half the business lies in how you interpret them!”
Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment.
The final round knockout.
The raw strength of a power lifter
The tenacity and dedication of a bodybuilder.
The unexpected fumble in the 4th quarter
The otherworldly pain tolerance of the marathon runner
The visual-spacial capacity of a world-class tennis player
The ability to turn on a dime while dribbling past several other soccer players at full speed.
Sport performance is a multi-faceted phenomenon. The factors which govern how the athletes perform vary from sport to sport, and from athlete to athlete. Heck, if you live in the world of the esoteric you might even claim (with a degree of validity), that it’s not obvious that we have a clear, workable definition of sports performance!
But, to come back on planet Earth for one second, there’s increasing evidence that independent of the qualities required by the athlete, there is one overarching commonality.
Better still, this finding seems to be applicable to people irrespective of skill and training age. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you are striving to be the most jacked guy waiting in line at the local Whole Foods or run a sub 4.5 electrically-timed 40 at the next Combine.
I hope you are still waiting at the edge of your seat….
Brain runs it all!
All aspects of athletic performance appear to be mediated by neural pathways which converge in that beautiful thing in between your ears.
Due to advances in our understanding of the bidirectional relationship between brain and athletic performance, the relatively uncharted domain of sports neuroscience is beginning to emerge as an independent field of study.
The study of the nervous system stretches back to ancient Egypt (or, by some accounts, even earlier that that), but as an independent academic discipline, modern neuroscience is a comparatively new field. Exercise physicians and neuroscientists have begun to connect the dots between the two seemingly unrelated worlds of the periphery and brain, even if much remains to be elucidated (one could argue this is the best part!). Collectively, these efforts gave birth to the advent of sports neuroscience, which is comprised of exercise physiology, neuroscience and a host of other domains relevant to brain research.
In case you are wondering, the brain ‘supremacy’ checks out in the real world, too. As Dr Tony Ricci, the CEO of FightScience Institute, put it succinctly in his opening presentation, the brain runs it all- the rest is just a mush. Having trained plethora of professional athletes in fight sports, including 6 world champions, and with an equally impressive list of academic titles, credentials and certifications under his several black belts, Dr Ricci embodies ‘the lab bench to weight bench’ journey like few others.
(to be continued- nothing like a good cliff-hanger!)
INTERESTED TO LEARN MORE ?
Stay tuned for the next installment, which, by the way, is coming out... soon!
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