Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Black belts' white matter shows how a powerful punch comes from the brain

August 15, 2012

Brain scans have revealed distinctive features in the brain structure of karate experts, which could be linked to their ability to punch powerfully from close range. Researchers from Imperial College London and UCL (University College London) found that differences in the structure of white matter - the connections between brain regions - were correlated with how black belts and novices performed in a test of punching ability.

Karate experts are able to generate extremely powerful forces with their punches, but how they do this is not fully understood. Previous studies have found that the force generated in a karate punch is not determined by muscular strength, suggesting that factors related to the control of muscle movement by the brain might be important.

The study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, looked for differences in brain structure between 12 karate practitioners with a black belt rank and an average of 13.8 years' karate experience, and 12 control subjects of similar age who exercised regularly but did not have any martial arts experience.

The researchers tested how powerfully the subjects could punch, but to make useful comparisons with the punching of novices they restricted the task to punching from short range - a distance of 5 centimetres. The subjects wore infrared markers on their arms and torso to capture the speed of their movements.

As expected, the karate group punched harder. The power of their punches seemed to be down to timing: the force they generated correlated with how well the movement of their wrists and shoulders were synchronised.

Brain scans showed that the microscopic structure in certain regions of the brain differed between the two groups. Each brain region is composed of grey matter, consisting of the main bodies of nerve cells, and white matter, which is mainly made up of bundles of fibres that carry signals from one region to another. The scans used in this study, called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), detected structural differences in the white matter of parts of the brain called the cerebellum and the primary motor cortex, which are known to be involved in controlling movement.

The differences measured by DTI in the cerebellum correlated with the synchronicity of the subjects' wrist and shoulder movements when punching. The DTI signal also correlated with the age at which karate experts began training and their total experience of the discipline. These findings suggest that the structural differences in the brain are related to the black belts' punching ability.

"Most research on how the brain controls movement has been based on examining how diseases can impair motor skills," said Dr Ed Roberts, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, who led the study. "We took a different approach, by looking at what enables experts to perform better than novices in tests of physical skill.

"The karate black belts were able to repeatedly coordinate their punching action with a level of coordination that novices can't produce. We think that ability might be related to fine tuning of neural connections in the cerebellum, allowing them to synchronise their arm and trunk movements very accurately.

"We're only just beginning to understand the relationship between brain structure and behaviour, but our findings are consistent with earlier research showing that the cerebellum plays a critical role in our ability to produce complex, coordinated movements.

"There are several factors that can affect the DTI signal, so we can't say exactly what features of the white matter these differences correspond to. Further studies using more advanced techniques will give us a clearer picture."

The study was supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University College London.

Imperial College London


Related White Matter Current Events and White Matter News Articles


Leaky blood-brain barrier linked to Alzheimer's disease
Researchers using contrast-enhanced MRI have identified leakages in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of people with early Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

PET imaging with special tracer can detect and diagnose early Alzheimer's disease
The effort to find ways to detect and diagnose preclinical Alzheimer's disease (AD) has taken a big step forward with the use of positron emission tomography (PET), a "nuclear medicine" for imaging processes in the body, when PET is used with a special 'tracer' that binds to the amyloid plaques in the brain that are a characteristic cause of AD.

Researchers shed light on pathway from virus to brain disease
Why people on immunosuppressant drugs for autoimmune conditions have a higher incidence of an often-fatal brain disease may be linked to a mutation in a common virus, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

No evidence of an association between silent brain infarcts and having migraine with aura
A large cross-sectional study focused on women with migraines with aura and compared their brain MRI images with those of women not suffering from migraine.

Insomnia linked to damage in brain communication networks
Using a sophisticated MRI technique, researchers have found abnormalities in the brain's white matter tracts in patients with insomnia. Results of the study were published online in the journal Radiology.

Imaging predicts long-term effects in veterans with brain injury
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a type of MRI, may be able to predict functional post-deployment outcomes for veterans who sustained mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), or concussion, during combat, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Vascular brain injury is evident in people in their 40s
A large, multi-center study led by the UC Davis School of Medicine for the first time has shown that people as young as their 40s have stiffening of the arteries that is associated with subtle structural damage to the brain that is implicated in cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease later in life.

Imaging shows impact of PTSD in earthquake survivors
MRI shows surprising differences in brain structure among adult earthquake survivors with and without post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study appearing online in the journal Radiology.

Brain structural effects of psychopharmacological treatment in bipolar disorder
Advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) acquisition and analyses over the last two decades have enabled the identification of neuroanatomical abnormalities in a range of mental disorders, however one question which has consistently surfaced is the extent to which the medications used to treat such disorders may accentuate or ameliorate these abnormalities.

Cocaine users present alterations in the function and structures of the brain
In the study cocaine users performed a gambling task while measurements were being taken of their brain activity.
More White Matter Current Events and White Matter News Articles

White Matter: A Memoir of Family and Medicine

White Matter: A Memoir of Family and Medicine
by Janet Sternburg (Author)


White Matter: A Memoir of Family and Medicine is the story of a Bostonian close-knit Jewish working-class family of five sisters and one brother and the impact they and their next generation endured due to the popularization of lobotomy during the 20th century. When Janet Sternburg’s grandfather abandoned his family, and her uncle, Bennie, became increasing mentally ill, Sternburg’s mother and aunts had to bind together and make crucial decisions for the family’s survival. Two of the toughest familial decisions they made were to have Bennie undergo a lobotomy to treat his schizophrenia and later to have youngest sister, Francie, undergo the same procedure to treat severe depression. Both heartrending decisions were largely a result of misinformation disseminated that popularized...

The Behavioral Neurology of White Matter

The Behavioral Neurology of White Matter
by Christopher Filley (Author)


Behavioral neurology is founded on lesions of cortical gray matter, but recently the contributions of cerebral white matter to cognitive and emotional dysfunction have also attracted attention. The Behavioral Neurology of White Matter surveys this broad and fascinating field from a clinical perspective. Stimulated by recent improvements in neuroimaging, white matter has been carefully studied, and its role in the operations of cognition and emotion clarified by correlations with clinical observations. The relevance of normal and abnormal white matter to behavioral neurology is apparent in every context where this question has been examined: in development, aging, and in a host of diseases, intoxications, and injuries. Since the first edition of this book in 2001, steady advances have been...

White Matter Dementia

White Matter Dementia
by Christopher M. Filley (Author)


Breaking away from prevailing views of dementia that rely heavily on the role of the cerebral cortex, the new perspective put forth here highlights white matter-cognition relationships, presenting an expanded view of dementia and its neurobiological origins. Based on detailed patient observations, extensive clinical research and an exhaustive literature review, this book discusses the novel concept of white matter dementia, offering hope for better understanding and treatment of dementing illness. Covering topics such as white matter neurobiology, mild cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer's disease, the author reconsiders brain-behavior relationships and expands the concept of dementia, discussing implications for diagnosis, treatment (medical, surgical, rehabilitative, and psychiatric)...

What's the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was

What's the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was
by Joan Walsh (Author)


""In this wonderfully insightful book, Joan Walsh shows how America built a large and vibrant (although mostly white) middle class that fueled the greatest economic boom in history and made a reality of the American dream. Hers is the story of postwar America told through a working class New York Irish Catholic family whose political divisions mirrored the nation's. Moving and powerful, her account will help people of all races think through how we can build a just and prosperous multiracial America."" —Robert B. Reich""A brilliant and illuminating book about America since the upheavals of the '60s and '70s. What's the Matter with White People? is about the heart and soul of America, from our Founding Fathers to Hillary and Barack.It's about our middle class, which so recently...

White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness

White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness
by Ruth Frankenberg (Author)


Traditional debates concerning racially hierarchical societies have tended to focus on the experience of being black. White Women, Race Matters breaks with this tradition by focusing on the particular experiences of white women in a racially hierarchical society. By considering the ways in which their experience not only contributes to but challenges the reproduction of racism, the work offers a rigorous examination of existing methodologies, practices and assumptions concerning racism and gender relations. Supported by extracts from in-depth life history interviews, White Women, Race Matters provides valuable course material.

Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter

Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter
by Michael White (Author), Tom Corcoran (Author)


Drawing on the wisdom gleaned from thriving mega-churches and innovative business leaders while anchoring their vision in the Eucharistic center of Catholic faith, Fr. Michael White and lay associate Tom Corcoran present the compelling and inspiring story to how they brought their parish back to life.Rebuilt is a story of stopping everything and changing focus. When their parish reached a breaking point, Fr. Michael White and lay associate Tom Corcoran asked themselves how they could make the Church matter to Catholics, and they realized the answer was at the heart of the Gospel. Their faithful response not only tripled their weekend mass attendance, but also yielded increased giving, flourishing ministries, and a vibrant, solidly Catholic spiritual revival. White and Corcoran invite all...

Tryfling Matters (There Goes the Galaxy) (Volume 3)

Tryfling Matters (There Goes the Galaxy) (Volume 3)
by Jenn Thorson (Author), Dave White (Cover Design)


They say you can’t go home again. But some people never listen.

Earth— known to the rest of the universe as Tryfe.

No matter what you call it, the little blue planet’s had its share of hard knocks. It’s been bought and sold to alien developers. It’s been held for ransom. Now the universe’s most famous Tryflings—Bertram Ludlow and Rozz Mercer—have returned to clean up the mess.

And what a mess it is. Family is acting strange. An alien corporation is running the place. And corporate outreach has an unusually hungry vibe.

Of course, even alien overlords need quality staff, so Bertram and Rozz boldly dive into the belly of the beast. As corporate spies, they must navigate a dangerous trail of conspiracy theorists, assassins, energy beverages...

A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush

A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush
by Ronald Kessler (Author)


More than seventy-five books attacking George W. Bush have been published so far. Now, finally, there's a book that sets the record straight against a backdrop of media bias. And it's not by a conservative idealogue but by an award-winning independent reporter who set out to find the real President Bush behind the two-dimensional public image. Ronald Kessler was granted unique access to the West Wing and interviewed the key players of the Bush administration-from Condoleezza Rice to Karl Rove to the president himself. Kessler also interviewed Bush's close friends, college roommates, and former aides. His surprising conclusion: George W. Bush isn't the most articulate or scholarly president in history, but he scores very high on the factors that count most: character and leadership....

To Dance With the White Dog

To Dance With the White Dog
by Terry Kay (Author)


Sam Peek's children are worried. Since that "saddest day" when Cora, his beloved wife of fifty-seven good years, died, no one knows how he will survive. How can this elderly man live alone on his farm? How can he keep driving his dilapidated truck down to the fields to care for his few rows of pecan trees? And when Sam begins telling his children about a dog as white as the pure driven snow -- that seems invisible to everyone but him -- his children think that grief and old age have finally taken their toll.
But whether the dog is real or not, Sam Peek -- "one of the smartest men in the South when it comes to trees" -- outsmarts them all. Sam and the White Dog will dance from the pages of this bittersweet novel and into your heart, as they share the mystery of life, and begin...

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
by Jim Fergus (Author)


One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

© 2016 BrightSurf.com