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Ping pong players exhibit superior brain structure and function, study finds

(From Psypost Cognitive Science Article)

Can playing table tennis, better known as “ping pong,” lead to significant improvements in brain structure and function? New research published in the journal Brain Research suggests it can. Researchers discovered that table tennis players exhibit distinct patterns of brain activity and structural changes in the brain, including increased white matter integrity in regions associated with motor skills.

Table tennis is one of the world’s fastest open-skill sports, demanding players to quickly track and respond to the ball’s trajectory. This requires high levels of cognitive functions such as decision-making, visual attention, and executive function.

Previous studies have indicated that sports and skill training can positively impact brain function, but the specific effects of table tennis on brain structure and function remained unclear. The researchers wanted to explore whether these athletes exhibited unique neural characteristics and if these could be linked to enhanced cognitive abilities.

The study involved 20 national-level table tennis players, all of whom had been training for over six years. These athletes were compared to a control group of 21 healthy university students who had not received systematic motor skill training. The participants were aged around 22 years and were matched in terms of age and sex. Both groups underwent a series of brain scans using a 7-Tesla MRI machine, which provides high-resolution images of brain structure and activity.

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