Monday, November 29, 2010

Brain development and football.

A few days ago I posted about decision making in football, and apparently I wasn't the only brain blogger to be thinking about the pigskin over the holiday weekend. Jared Tanner, over at BrainBlogger, put forward the hypothesis that one of the reasons most college teams don't start freshman quarterbacks has to do with their underdeveloped prefrontal cortices, which leaves them less able to make good split-second decisions.  It is an interesting idea, and there is some basis to think that the brain of an 18 year old would look a bit different from a 22 year old's.  Still, there are numerous experiments that would need to be done just to demonstrate that junior or senior quarterbacks really perform that much better than freshman or sophomores, and that any difference in performance is not related to experience with the team, the coaches, the types of plays being run, etc.  After all, my alma mater, Penn State, started a freshman QB named Rob Boulden this year, and he played pretty well, up until he got a head injury... which would be another variable that would have to be controlled for in any study of the brains of football players.

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