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Why athletes will treat the brain like a muscle

As athletes, we’re at the point of marginal returns from physiological sports enhancement,” says Brad Stulberg, journalist, columnist and co-author of the upcoming book “Peak Performance.” “So the next legal [non-doping] frontier is the mind.”

Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning. - PubMed - NCBI

↓ Full text Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning. Draganich C, et al. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2014. Show full citation Abstract The placebo effect is any outcome that is not attributed to a specific treatment but rather to an individual's mindset (Benson & Friedman, 1996). This phenomenon can extend beyond its typical use in pharmaceutical drugs to involve aspects of everyday life, such as the effect of sleep on cognitive functioning. In 2 studies examining whether perceived sleep quality affects cognitive functioning, 164 participants reported their previous night's sleep quality. They were then randomly assigned to 1 of 2 sleep quality conditions or 2 control conditions. Those in the "above average" sleep quality condition were informed that they had spent 28.7% of their total sleep time in REM, whereas those in the "below average" sleep quality condition were informed that they had only spent 16.2% of their time in REM sleep. Assigned sleep quality but not self-reported sleep quality significantly predicted participants' scores on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and Controlled Oral Word Association Task. Assigned sleep quality did not predict participants' scores on the Digit Span task, as expected, nor did it predict scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, which was unexpected. The control conditions showed that the findings were not due to demand characteristics from the experimental protocol. These findings supported the hypothesis that mindset can influence cognitive states in both positive and negative directions, suggesting a means of controlling one's health and cognition.

The Scientific Basis of How Yoga Works -- Science of Us

If you’re doing the same poses over and over again, day after day, year after year, you’re going to get pretty intimate with how your body expresses itself in those forms, and along the way cultivate what researchers call proprioception, or the awareness of where your body is in space, and interoception, or the sensations not just of the air on your skin, but your bones, tendons, and body tissues as you mindfully contort your body, as well as your emotional state. As your yoga teachers have exhorted you to do, you’re gaining a finer-grained sense of where your skeleton is within your body, and how all the flesh layers on top of that. As Harvard Medical School assistant professor Sat Bir Singh Khalsa told me, these increases in internal awareness can change entire lifestyles. “Somebody’s who’s practiced yoga for eight weeks and then smokes a cigarette, will say, ‘My god, I never noticed how bad these things were, I can’t stand this, this feels awful,’” he says. With training, the body’s sensations become more perceptible to you, so you feel the toxicity of things at a higher intensity. For this reason, he says, yoga can be super powerful in controlling lifestyle diseases. “People change their diets, change their behaviors to ones that make them feel better, because now, for the first time in their lives, they’re actually feeling more.”