Apr 5, 2019
Playing organized team sports grows the hippocampus, the brain’s emotion and memory center, while reducing the incidence of adult depression. This is the finding by neuroscientists at the Washington University-St. Louis.
They studied a nationwide sample over over 4000 children 9 to 11 years of age using questionnaires to determine their participation in sports and their emotional outlook. Each underwent MRI brain imaging to measure their hippocampal volumes.
Participation in regular, organized team sports but not casual pickup games or non-sport activities such as music or art triggers hippocampal growth in both boys and girls. The sports-playing boys but not the girls showed a notably reduced incidence of clinical depression later in life.
The authors caution that this observation is merely an association and not proof of cause and effect. Even so, it underscores the value of participation in after-school athletics as long as they don’t trigger head injuries.
Lisa S. Gorham, Terry Jernigan, Jim Hudziak, Deanna M. Barch. Involvement in Sports, Hippocampal Volume, and Depressive Symptoms in Children. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.01.011
#Sports #teams #hippocampus #depression #music #art