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Asian J Kinesiol > Volume 16(4); 2014 > Article
The Official Journal of the Korean Academy of Kinesiology 2014;16(4):23-30.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15758/jkak.2014.16.4.23    Published online October 31, 2014.
The Structural Characteristics of Athlete's Brain
In Sung Park
Kyungil University
Correspondence:  In Sung Park,
Email: ispark@kiu.kr
Received: 4 August 2014   • Accepted: 25 October 2014
Abstract
PURPOSE
Physical training and motor learning have been shown to make alterations in regional brain structure and this has been examined by numerous tasks. A growing number of morphological studies have demonstrated changes in various structures of athlete’s brain after training. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compromise the prospect to explore human brain structure in vivo noninvasively. The purpose of this study was to provide a summary of neuroimaging studies on morphological plasticity of athletes.
METHODS
We reviewed neuroimaging researches of structural plasticity in athlete’s brain.
RESULTS
Cross-sectional and prospective researches revealed strong relationship between motor skill learning and morphological plasticity of the brain shedding light on structural changes in healthy brain. Exercises and motor learning have been shown to induce alterations in regional brain structure including cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and hippocampus. Studies looking at various brain structures in athletes have also showed athletes had remarkable experience-dependent plasticity. These results appear consistent with animal studies showing training-dependent morphological changes.
CONCLUSIONS
These results indicate that athlete is involved in the plastic structural changes in various brain structures. Such morphological plasticity may reflect specific experiences of long-term training and practice of sports skills. This study offers a summary of longitudinal and cross-sectional studies on morphological change of the human brain in athletes.
Keywords: exercise, motor learning, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus
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