By Vanessa Chalmers Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 13:28 GMT, 9 December 2019 | Updated: 13:29 GMT, 9 December 2019
Athletes have better-tuned brains that can block distractions and allow them listen to what is going on around them, a study suggests.
Almost one thousands students, including athletes, had electrodes attached to their heads to measure brain activity in response to a sound.
Student athletes were better able to block background 'noise' to hear sounds, which could include calls from a teammate to pass the ball.
Neuroscientists said this ability may signal a person has a stronger nervous system. It also means they may be more aware of their surroundings.
Musicians and people who can speak more than one language have also been found to have this skill. It typically deteriorates as we age.
Athletes are better at tuning their brain to understand their environment better by blocking out background noise in their brain, a study suggests
Senior author Dr Nina Kraus, of Northwestern University, said: 'No one would argue against the fact that sports lead to better physical fitness, but we don’t always think of brain fitness and sports.
'We're saying playing sports can tune the brain to better understand one's sensory environment.
'A serious commitment to physical activity seems to track with a quieter nervous system.
'And perhaps, if you have a healthier nervous system, you may be able to better handle injury or other health problems.'
These are the latest results of a five-year, US National Institutes of Health-funded research project which launched last year.
The study examined the brain health of 495 female and male Northwestern Division 1 college athletes and 493 controls who were the same age.
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