Sports Can Increase a Person's Understanding of Language

Athletics are a major part of our society. Millions of fans settle in front of their TVs or in seats at a stadium everyday to root for their teams, no matter what the sport.

Athletics are a major part of our society. Millions of fans settle in front of their TVs or in seats at a stadium everyday to root for their teams, no matter what the sport. Considering some of the things we’ve heard fans scream at opposing teams, who would imagine that watching sports could actually have a positive impact on someone’s brain health and understanding of language? Based on research conducted at the University of Chicago, this may actually be true. The results indicate that people who watch sports actually have a “stronger understanding of language,” according to lead researcher Sian Beilock, associate professor of psychology at the University.

Researchers recruited a group of professional and intercollegiate hockey players, fans, and individuals who’ve never watched a hockey game to attend a game. Afterwards, these participants underwent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), during which they listened to hockey-related sentences and then took a variety of tests “designed to gauge their comprehension of those sentences.” Upon reviewing the fMRI and test results, the researchers concluded that when “hockey players and fans listen to language about hockey, they show activity in the brain regions usually used to plan and select well-learned physical actions” and that the “increased activity in motor areas of the brain helps hockey players and fans to better understanding hockey language.”

To read the entire paper, click here.

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