Brain Metabolism and Training Effects

Here is brain metabolism in Tetris, reported in Wired in 1993:

In Tetris, Haier sees "a tremendous learning curve. The question became: When the stimuli are faster and the decision making is harder, does the brain require more energy?" Haier found, as he suspected, that the brain requires less energy to play higher levels of Tetris. This is "counterintuitive," he says, "but consistent with a brain efficiency idea."

In first-time users, Tetris significantly raises cerebral glucose metabolic rates (GMRs), meaning brain energy consumption soars. Yet, after four to eight weeks of daily doses, GMRs sink to normal, while performance increases seven-fold, on average. Tetris trains your brain to stop using inefficient gray matter, perhaps a key cognitive strategy for learning. In fact, the lowest final GMRs are found in the best players' brains, the ones most efficient at dealing with Tetris's Daedalian geometry.

Here is Yahoo Sports on soccer players and brain metabolism, 2014:

Tokyo (AFP) - Brazilian superstar Neymar's brain activity while dancing past opponents is less than 10 percent the level of amateur players, suggesting he plays as if on auto-pilot, according to Japanese neurologists.

Results of brain scans conducted on Neymar in February this year indicated minimal cerebral function when he rotated his ankle and point to the Barcelona striker's wizardry being uncannily natural.

"From MRI images we discovered Neymar's brain activity to be less than 10 percent of an amateur player," researcher Eiichi Naito told AFP on Friday.

"It is possible genetics is a factor, aided by the type of training he does."

I think genetics is what makes Neymar capable of becoming the great player he is, with training, but the training effect (pros train more and better than amateurs, I believe) is common to all of our genes and brains. Training decreases the brain metabolism requirements for the same amount of work, and that work becomes more effective with that training as well.

Efficiency. A very good thing about the brain.

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