B2 High-Intermediate US 1953 Folder Collection
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Your heart races and your cheeks begin to flush; as you anticipate the surge of energy
this win will bring, you move to the edge of your seat - you can't get enough! So why
are we so passionately involved or obsessed with sports?
Hormones control the way we feel and are stimulated by every action we take. Hugging a friend
releases oxytocin making you feel calm, while cramming for an exam releases cortisol leading
to irritability - but also alertness. Simply watching sports stimulates hormone levels
as well. Testosterone in particular is a hormone linked to dominance and social interaction,
but also increases brain power, spatial awareness and muscle growth. And scientists have found
that after watching your team win, levels of testosterone skyrocket, especially compared
to experiencing a loss. Funnily enough, this has even been documented in politics: during
the 2008 US election, males who voted for Obama were found to have much higher levels
of testosterone after he won, than those who voted for McCain.
When your favourite athlete takes home the gold, a surge of dopamine is also released.
This biological rush activates pleasure centres in the brain while increasing memory and learning.
This increased memory helps explain why some people continue to watch sports - they're
looking to recreate the physiological excitement they can't seem to forget.
The brain also contains cells called Mirror Neurons which are not only activated when
completing an action, but also when viewing it, or even hearing it. Certain mirror neurons
will be activated when throwing a ball, seeing someone throw a ball, or even hearing the
word 'ball'. It's the reason we can 'put ourselves in another's shoes, and why we experience
a similar emotional and physical reaction to somebody else winning. In fact, scientists
monitoring both athletes and spectators see the same parts of the brain activated - as
if the viewer were playing the game. From an evolutionary perspective, this allows us
to understand the mental states of others and interpret their actions and intentions,
as well as empathize with them. It also helps to explain why we find such pleasure and excitement
in seeing our favourite team or athlete become a champion.
Curiously, scientists have found that some people have problems with this mirror neuron system.
This renders them unable to empathize with others, leading to some social disorders.
At the extreme ends, serial killers have been found to lack this mirror neuron system.
Science says, our obsession with sports may be a great example of our adapted hormonal
and neuronal systems at work, keeping us connected as the human race... while watching humans
race.
Don't forget: we have a new video out every day during the Olympics!
But if you can't wait, head to cbc.ca/olympics/ScienceSays for more.
Keep asking those burning questions with the hashtag ScienceSays and subscribe for more awesome science videos!
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Why Do People Obsess Over Sports?

1953 Folder Collection
cathy~ published on May 4, 2015
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