Ever since Marie Curie discovered radioactivity in 1912, we’ve come to think of it as part of our everyday lives, whether it’s as an underground tracer on the Underground train, a souvenir on the souvenir shop windows, or a new life skill.
Our brains absorb a lot of our chemical information (DNA, proteins, DNA-synthesizing molecules, cytokines and cytokine receptors) on a daily basis. And we generate a lot of chemical signals (adrenal receptors, neural signaling neurons) throughout the day.
(Ed Burke/Getty Images)
But our bodies can’t always keep up. On a minutely fine scale, the body can’t keep up the levels of chemical information processing – so much is lost, and thus incorrect – between exposures and rest periods, and we can end up with mismatched biochemical signals at different times in our lives.
We also lack critical hormones, like oxytocin and vasopressin, during rest periods, unlike what happens in an Athlete’s body, which “chokes” a hormone like oxytocin in times of stress, which promotes calmness.
Hannah Ahlers, an Athlete at the University of Illinois, entered into research on this topic.
She conducted a series of studies to find how Athlete’s blood enhances intelligence.
Athlete’s blood might be able to remove unwanted signals and re-balance a brain with the healthiest signifiers, like oxytocin.
In the first study she conducted, she recruited 30 female athletes with an average age of 20, and gave all of them a brain scan after a game of 50m/100m. She tested their performance in memory tests and then administered their brain scans after the next week. The result: Athlete’s blood might be able to remove unwanted signals and re-balance a brain with the healthiest signifiers, like oxytocin.
Next, with more athletes at higher levels of performance, her team gave all of them brain scans, just 30 minutes after a game of 100m. They found that Athlete’s blood lowered activity levels in certain parts of the brain – regions that work as pathways between the body and the brain. This was particularly true for certain parts of the brain responsible for memory – regions such as the hippocampus, which is generally associated with language and memory.
Athlete’s blood also brought out brain waves associated with better attention – which can help someone stay focused on a task, have a clearer memory, and have a more unified thinking process.
I asked Hannah Ahlers how her work relates to people with memory problems.
She tells me that previously it’s not been known how brain signals adjust over time, but that was because there are few tests for measuring this kind of neural activity. She says this research shows that by comparing athletes’ blood with a brain scanner, they can train the brain to eliminate erroneous signals.
In future studies, Hannah wants to do a full-length study using a larger sample of brains. She hopes to find out if Athlete’s blood can reverse cognitive decline in older age, for example.
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Cine, A. H., Agha, A. F., Bussey, T. R., Leary, N. K., and Stillwell, G. R. (2017). Chronodynamic changes in pre- and post-and- post-participation brain imaging of 20 female athletes. Brain Research, 103, 97–103.
Bloom, C. H., Perelman, A. L., and Bass, J. (2018). Does sport environment effect the resilience of women to concussion? Journal of Sport & Exercise Physiology, 13, 59–64.