Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sportsperson's Performance Linked to state of their brain

Success or failure of a sportsman could be determined through the alphas and gammas inside his brain. This discovery has come to light through an ongoing brain mapping study conducted by a group of post graduate students of Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle. The study states that these zones in the brain can largely have an effect on the performance of a sportsman irrespective of the type of sport.

For the purpose of the study, about 45 sportsmen — cricketers, footballers, hockey players and karate players — from national and international level have been examined. These players are patients who visit the hospital for physiotherapy sessions.
“Whenever a sportsman performed well, his brain was found in the alpha zone, which ensures optimum performance. When the players performed bad or were injured, we found out that the brain was in the gamma zone,” said Dr Ali Irani, head, department of physiotherapy and sports medicine, Nanavati Hospital. Irani, a former physiotherapist with the Indian cricket team, is heading the study.

“There have been times when a player has been blamed for bad performance and sudden injuries. But, our findings show that it largely has to do with the state of his brain,” added Irani.

The brains alpha zone is a state when an individual has the ideal functioning capability and can give his best performance in anything he is doing. Alpha zone ranges from 8-12 hertz. Gamma zone, which ranges from 30 hertz and above, has been associated with extreme stress levels when optimum performance cannot be achieved.
The procedure of studying a player involves attaching three electrodes to the sportsman’s forehead. The electrodes are connected to preloaded software in an Apple Macbook, which records the zone of the patient’s brain.

One of the examples from the study was that of a footballer, who plays for an airline team. The study showed that the footballer was in the state of alpha when he was asked to recollect his best played games. While under stress, or when asked to think about his bad performances, the player’s brain was in the gamma zone.

However, according to Irani, only knowing the zones of the brain is not enough. “We are trying to actually use brain mapping as a modality for treatment or as a diagnostic tool,” said Irani, adding that after recording the zones, the players were given alpha therapy and relaxation exercises.
Alpha therapy involves listening to a 14 minute music track with bi-neural frequency, which lowers the brain frequency and gets it to the alpha zone. The relaxation techniques involve focused breathing, practising optimism, etc. “The players were got in the alpha zone during the game and they performed extremely well,” said Irani.

Other than sportsmen, the students are also conducting studies on cardiac and neurology patients. While Irani has already introduced the ongoing study at two international conferences, it will take another year for the study to be completed.

By Jyoti Shelar

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