The study suggests that athletes have better performance by 20% than normal people in remembering things under a stressful situation.
Independent: Elite athletes can think far better than normal people when put under stress, study finds
This study has only six athletes and six controls. Therefore, this result is hardly trustworthy in terms of statistical significance, needless to know the whole study protocol. In basic medical science using rats or mice, a total of twelve subjects can be adequate. However, the human being is much different in several elements with each other. I can say nothing after knowing this result.
Nonetheless, the point the researchers paid attention to makes sense. There has been a hypothesis that athletes have alternative ways of thinking compared to non-trained people. Several episodes in which top athletes achieved a marvelous outcome in an extreme situation imagine us that they have unique solutions to maximize their performance, or change risk into chance.
I think there are three possibilities to explain the extraordinary performance of athletes. First, top athletes are blessed in physical status. And our body is connected to the mind. Thus, it is quite natural that talented people in physical performance are also good at creative works. Unfortunately, it is an issue of the gene.
Second, some psychologists are specialized in athletes training. As I heard from one of them, mental training is one of the most important topics in growing them up. Cognitive behavioral therapy is frequently adopted to them. Repeated exposure to a tough situation and preventing them from avoidant or irrational thoughts can reduce their anxiety and negative images before the game. A good athlete knows how to overcome their fear and anxiety.
Third, some kind of endogenic change can occur in an athlete’s body when posing a particular situation. Epinephrine, cortisol, and several other hormones are secreted in a stressful environment. Catecholamine works as a neurotransmitter, to enhance concentration. Thus, we potentially make better performance under pressure. On the other hand, excessive release of catecholamine brings us to an upset state, which inhibits us from the optimized activity. Athletes are likely to be accustomed to controlling catecholamine level unconsciously.