Although SportNeuronics is interested, and thus possibly active, in any field of sport medicine and technology, the interaction of mind and sport is our main focus. This interaction may be studied through its everchanging aspects and various modalities.

In this page the reader is introduced to a few of the many domains dealing with sport-brain interaction.


When dealing with physiology, we at SportNeuronics are more concerned with the physiological bases of psychological processes, thus psychophysiology. While psychophysiology was a general broad field of research in the 1960s and 1970s, it has now become quite specialized, and has branched into subspecializations. For example, Social Psychophysiology, Cardiovascular Psychophysiology, Cognitive Psychophysiology, and Cognitive Neuroscience.
It may be difficult, but intriguing, in distinguishing a psychophysiologist from a physiological psychologist, two very different perspectives. For example psychologists are interested in why we may fear spiders and physiologists may be interested in the input/output system of the amygdala. A psychophysiologist will attempt to link the two. Psychophysiologists generally study the psychological/physiological link in intact human subjects. While early psychophysiologists almost always examined the impact of psychological states on physiological system responses, since the 1970s, psychophysiologists also frequently study the impact of physiological states and systems on psychological states and processes. It is this perspective of studying the interface of mind and body that makes psychophysiologists most distinct.
Historically, most psychophysiologists tended to examine the physiological responses and organ systems innervated by the autonomic nervous system. More recently, psychophysiologists have been equally, or potentially more, interested in the central nervous system, exploring cortical brain potentials such as the many types of event-related potentials (ERPs), brain waves, and utilizing advanced technology such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), MRI, PET, MEG, and other neuroimagery techniques.
Continuing the comparison between a psychophysiologist and a physiological psychologist, a psychophysiologist may look at how exposure to a stressful situation will produce a result in the cardiovascular system such as a change in heart rate (HR), vasodilation/vasoconstriction, myocardial contractility, or stroke volume. A physiological psychologist may look at how one cardiovascular event may influence another cardiovascular or endocrine event, or how activation of one neural brain structure exerts excitatory activity in another neural structure which then induces an inhibitory effect in some other system. Often, physiological psychologists examine the effects that they study in infrahuman subjects using surgical or invasive techniques and processes [1].

Although these concepts are quite difficult to understand by the general public, they are at the base of any research involving the study of interaction between brain and body in sport activities.

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[1] Psychophysiology from Wikipedia.


We are mostly interested in the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors.

More specifically neuropsychology studies the structure and function of the brain as they relate to specific psychological processes and behaviors. It is seen as a clinical and experimental field of psychology that aims to study, assess, understand and treat behaviors directly related to brain functioning. The term neuropsychology has been applied to lesion studies in humans and animals. It has also been applied to efforts to record electrical activity from individual cells (or groups of cells) in higher primates (including some studies of human patients). It is scientific in its approach, making use of neuroscience, and shares an information processing view of the mind with cognitive psychology and cognitive science [2].

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[2] Neuropsychology from Wikipedia.


SportNeuronics is devoted to evaluating, measuring and possibly increasing athlete's mental skill to improve his/her sport performances.

You know that talent is not sufficent alone to reach top performances, nor sweat and blood are. Both are needed thus training must be both hard and smart, meaning that mental skills must be trained as well as physical ones.
Mental skills are often defined as anything that impacts the sport performance other than talent and physical skills. Most of them are of interest in cognitive neuroscience and psychophysiology, others are of more anthropological or philosophical nature and escape a formal instrumental evaluation.
The following may be a possible list of mental skills: focus, courage, confidence, motivation, self-control, awareness, toughness, relentlessness, perspective, imagery, forgiveness, perseverence, attitude, anchors, affirmations, discipline, teamwork, self-esteem, mental toughness, intensity, respect, consistency, competitiveness, loyalty, enjoyment, humility, goal setting, meditation, prayer, approach, strategy, self-talk, balance, intelligence, concentration, staying within yourself, presentness, playing for self, response, enjoyment, poise, perspective, communicativeness, handling failure, adjustments, kaizen (continuous progress).

Read more:

[3] Tenenbaum G., Eklund R.C.: "Handbook of Sport Psychology" 2007, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken NJ, USA.


Cognition is the process by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. In science, cognition is the mental processing that includes the attention of working memory, comprehending and producing language, calculating, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Various disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy and linguistics all study cognition. However, the term's usage varies across disciplines; for example, in psychology and cognitive science, "cognition" usually refers to an information processing view of an individual's psychological functions. It is also used in a branch of social psychology called social cognition to explain attitudes, attribution, and groups dynamics. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant's or operator's mind or brain.
Cognition is a faculty for the processing of information, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious. These processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of linguistics, anesthesia, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, systemics, and computer science. Within psychology or philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concepts such as mind, intelligence. It encompasses the mental functions, mental processes (thoughts), and states of intelligent entities (humans, collaborative groups, human organizations, highly autonomous machines, and artificial intelligences) [4].

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[4] Cognition from Wikipedia.


Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems, their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Cybernetics is relevant to the study of systems, such as mechanical, physical, biological, cognitive, and social systems. Cybernetics is applicable when a system being analyzed is involved in a closed signaling loop; that is, where action by the system generates some change in its environment and that change is reflected in that system in some manner (feedback) that triggers a system change, originally referred to as a "circular causal" relationship.

Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics in 1948 as "the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine." The word "cybernetics" comes from the Greek word κυβερνητικη ("government"), i.e. all that are pertinent to κυβερνω, the latter meaning to "steer", "navigate" or "govern". Contemporary cybernetics began as an interdisciplinary study connecting the fields of control systems, electrical network theory, mechanical engineering, logic modeling, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology and psychology in the 1940s, often attributed to the "Macy Conferences".
Fields of study which have influenced or been influenced by cybernetics include game theory, system theory (a mathematical counterpart to cybernetics), perceptual control theory, sociology, psychology (especially neuropsychology, behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology), philosophy, architecture and organizational theory. Concepts studied by cyberneticists (or, as some prefer, cyberneticians) include, but are not limited to: learning, cognition, adaptation, social control, emergence, communication, efficiency, efficacy and connectivity. These concepts are studied by other subjects such as engineering and biology, but in cybernetics these are abstracted from the context of the individual organism or device. [5]

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[5] Cybernetics from Wikipedia.
[6] Jagacinski R.J., Flach J.M.: "Control theory for humans" 2003, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mahwah NJ, USA.


Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself. The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration single-pointed analysis, meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.
The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way. [7]

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[7] Meditation from Wikipedia.


Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of processing resources. Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology, cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology. Attention remains a major area of investigation within education, psychology, neuroscience and neuropsychology. Areas of active investigation involve determining the source of the signals that generate attention, the effects of these signals on the tuning properties of sensory neurons, and the relationship between attention and other behavioral and cognitive processes like working memory and vigilance. A relatively new body of research, which expands upon earlier research within neuropsychology, is investigating the diagnostic symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries and their effects on attention. Attention also has variational differences among differing cultures.
The relationships between attention and consciousness are complex enough that they have warranted perennial philosophical exploration. Such exploration is both ancient and continually relevant, as it can have effects in fields ranging from mental health and the study of disorders of consciousness to artificial intelligence and its domains of research and development. [8]

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[8] Attention from Wikipedia.


Motivation is the driving force that causes the flux from desire to will in life. For example, hunger is a motivation that elicits a desire to eat. Motivation has been shown to have roots in physiological, behavioral, cognitive, and social areas. Motivation may be rooted in a basic impulse to optimize well-being, minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure. It can also originate from specific physical needs such as eating, sleeping or resting, and sex. Motivation is an inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner. These inner conditions such as wishes, desires and goals, activate to move in a particular direction in behavior.
A class of theories about why people do things seeks to reduce the number of factors down to one and explain all behaviour through that one factor. For example, economics has been criticized for using self-interest as a mono-motivational theory. Mono-motivational theories are often criticized for being too reductive or too abstract. A number of motivational theories emphasize the distinction between conscious and unconscious motivations. In evolutionary psychology, the "ultimate" unconscious motivation may be a cold evolutionary calculation, the conscious motivation could be more benign or even positive emotions. For example, while it may be in the best interest of a male's genes to have multiple partners and thus break up with or divorce one before moving onto the next, the conscious rationalization could be, "I loved her at the time". Freud is associated with the idea that human beings have many unconscious motivations that cause them to make important decisions because of these unconscious forces, such as choosing a partner. Motivation can be looked at as a cycle where thoughts influence behaviors and behaviors thus drive performance. Performance will impact thoughts and the cycle becomes cyclical. Each facet is composed of many multi-faceted dimensions where attitudes, beliefs, intentions, effort, and withdrawal all affect the amount of motivation one has. [9]

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[9] Motivation from Wikipedia.


In psychology and philosophy, emotion is a subjective, conscious experience characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. Emotion is often associated and considered reciprocally influential with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. It also is influenced by hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin, cortisol and GABA. Emotion is often the driving force behind motivation, positive or negative. An alternative definition of emotion is a "positive or negative experience that is associated with a particular pattern of physiological activity".
The physiology of emotion is closely linked to arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Emotions are a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence our behaviour. Those acting primarily on emotion may seem as if they are not thinking, but cognition is an important aspect of emotion, particularly the interpretation of events. For example, the experience of fear usually occurs in response to a threat. The cognition of danger and subsequent arousal of the nervous system (e.g. rapid heartbeat and breathing, sweating, muscle tension) is an integral component to the subsequent interpretation and labeling of that arousal as an emotional state. Emotion is also linked to behavioral tendency. Extroverted people are more likely to be social and express their emotions, while introverted people are more likely to be more socially withdrawn and conceal their emotions. [10]

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[10] Emotion from Wikipedia.


Affect refers to the experience of feeling or emotion. Affect is a key part of the process of an organism's interaction with stimuli. The word also refers sometimes to affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" (APA 2006). The affective domain represents one of the three divisions described in modern psychology: the cognitive, the conative, and the affective. Classically, these divisions have also been referred to as the "ABC of psychology", in that case using the terms "affect", "behavior", and "cognition". In certain views, the conative may be considered as a part of the affective, or the affective as a part of the cognitive.
Affective states are considered psycho-physiological constructs and are split up into three main categories: valence, arousal, and motivational intensity. Valence is the positive-to-negative evaluation of the subjectively experienced state. Emotional valence is defined as referring to the emotion's consequences, eliciting circumstances, or subjective feel or attitude. Arousal is by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and can be measured subjectively. Arousal is a construct that is closely related to motivational intensity but they differ because motivation requires action implications while arousal does not. Motivational intensity refers to impulsion to act. It is the strength of urge to move toward or away from a stimulus. Simply moving is not considered approach motivation without a motivational urge present. All three of these categories are important when looking at the effect of affective states on cognitive scope. Initially, it was thought that positive affects broadened cognitive scope whereas negative affects narrowed cognitive scope. However, evidence now suggests that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden cognitive scope. The cognitive scope has indeed proven to be a highly effective cognitive approach. [10]

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[10] Affectivity from Wikipedia.


Teenbaum and Eklund in there handbook [3] present three key concepts regarding social cognitive study of teams functioning. The first one is "that social processes operating within a team can affect the cognition of an individual team member". The second is that "the cognitive properties of a team cannot be defined simply as the sum of the properties of the individual members of that team", and the third "is that the ability of the team to achieve an organizational structure and to coordinate its operations is enhanced when the team is able to first achieve, and subsequently maintain, a specific social-cognitive state, termed a shared knowledge state".
We at SportNeuronics believe that this point of view is very innovative and extremely important and it opens a complete new window on sport psychology. By the way it stimulates research also on other kind of teams, besides those we may found in sport, like for example military teams in action.

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[3] Tenenbaum G., Eklund R.C.: "Handbook of Sport Psychology" 2007, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken NJ, USA.


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