What We Can Learn from the Minds of Olympic Athletes: Q&A with John Krakauer, M.D.

Guest blog by Kayt Sukel

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The famed Olympic torch is now burning strong in Rio de Janeiro. The 2016 Summer Olympics are under way, and the best athletes in the world have come to represent their respective countries and compete for the gold. Time and time again, sports commentators regale us with stories about the necessity of a good “mental” game to find success in high profile events like the Olympics–and the scientific research, though limited, appears to back that view [See our paper: “Mental Preparation of High-Level Athletes”]. But what is it specifically about the brains of these athletes that allows them to reach these levels? John Krakauer, M.D., a neurologist at the Johns Hopkins University who studies human sensorimotor learning and performance, speaks with us about what we can learn from the minds of Olympic athletes, whether super athletes should be considered geniuses, and how those findings may one day inform rehabilitation after stroke or brain injury.

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A Study of Motivation

Adcock, R. Alison_heashot“What makes us curious? What makes us play with our environment and investigate it? Why are some people more curious than others—and why does my own curiosity wax and wane over time?” These are questions Dana Foundation grantee R. Alison Adcock has asked herself since she was child, and which have led her to focus her scientific research on motivation.

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April 10: Learning & the Brain New York

Learning & the Brain will hold a one-day symposium in New York City on April 10 that will explore the mindsets and motivation in student success. According to the website,

This one-day symposium will bring cognitive scientists, psychologists and educators together to explore the role that mindsets, attitudes, anxiety, goals, optimism, dopamine, intentions, resilience, persistence and character play in student success and achievement in life and school. Learn strategies you can use to make students more successful, motivated and resilient.

Regular registration ends April 5, so be sure to sign up before then to avoid paying an additional fee.

The Dana Foundation is a co-sponsor of the symposium, and will have a table at the event. Please stop by and say hello and pick up some of our free literature.

Hope to see you there!

– Ann L. Whitman

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