Performing the fast left-hand turn in short-track speed skating induces a change in the right hemisphere of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordinated, visually-guided movement, as well as dynamic balance. Because skaters balance on the right foot when they turn left in short-track, this is thought to cause this hemisphere of the cerebellum to grow and adapt, as this part of the brain controls balance when standing on the right foot. This is an interesting example that shows the plasticity of the brain, and the ways in which it adapts to the need for highly-coordinated movements.
Link to the press-release:
- Skaters’ Brains: Specialized Training of Complex Motor Skills May Induce Sports-Specific Structural Changes in Cerebellum (ScienceDaily.com)
Questions that arise for me:
- How much adaptation can occur as a result of practicing these motor skills? For instance, are some people genetically predisposed for adaptation in the cerebellum? Does this ability for the cerebellum to adapt help to explain why some people get really good at a sport, while others may struggle?
One response to “Go fast, turn left: brain changes result from complex motor skills”
Pingback: Go fast, turn left: brain changes result from complex motor skills | KIN 360 – Michigan State « Andy Driska