RCS Sidelines

September 5, 2008 1:40 PM

Watching Sports Can Make You Smarter (Really)

With college football fully underway, baseball closing in on its playoffs, and a new NFL season (finally) starting, it's time to get some of those arguments in order to help justify all the sports you're soon to be watching (note: saying, "Can't you rake the leaves yourself?" to your wife or girlfriend is not advised).

Next time you're getting judged for spending 20 hours in front of your television, in just one weekend, try this one: watching sports can actually improve brain function, according to a study done at the University of Chicago.

Being an athlete or merely a fan improves language skills when it comes to discussing their sport because parts of the brain usually involved in playing sports are instead used to understand sport language..

"We show that non-language related activities, such as playing or watching a sport, enhance one's ability to understand language about their sport precisely because brain areas normally used to act become highly involved in language understanding," said Sian Beilock, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago.

"Experience...watching sports has enduring effects on language understanding by changing the neural networks that support comprehension to incorporate areas active in performing sports skills," she said.

So the next time you need to get out of a company dinner, or really don't want to miss the OSU-USC game because of another day of shopping, plop yourself in front of the TV, turn on the game, and remind them: it's science.

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