Sunday, May 19, 2013

Choking and Rumination

Rumination can interfere with concentration and performance of motor tasks, resulting in the phenomenon of choking. Athletes usually perform better when they trust their bodies rather than thinking too much about their own actions or what their coaches told them during practice, at least according to researcher Juergen Beckmann PhD, chair of sport psychology, Technical University of Munich in Germany. Something as simple as consciously trying to keep one’s balance, for example, may produce imbalance, as was seen in some sub-par performances by gymnasts during the Olympics in London. Research has shown that rumination is associated with the brain’s left hemisphere. It’s the right hemisphere that is associated with superior performance in automated behaviors, such as those used by some athletes. The right hemisphere controls movements of the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the right side. Too much “rumination,” therefore, appears to activate the left hemisphere, which may result in choking. Researchers have been attempting to find ways to activate the right hemisphere and capitalize on the brain’s automated behaviors. More on that tomorrow.

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