[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
[Sports announcer:] “Hello and welcome to Sports Update. In NHL action: with two seconds left in OT, Penguins’ winger Jean Jejune nailed a wrist shot from the point that sent the puck skidding through the five-hole.”
Now, if you were a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, you’d be whooping with delight. If you don’t like the Penguins, you might be shaking your head in dismay. If you don’t follow hockey, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s because immersing yourself in a sport actually makes your brain better at processing language—language that relates to that sport.
We all know that practice makes perfect, whether you’re polishing your slapshot or your vocabulary. But in the September 2nd issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, psychologists show that playing hockey, or even listening to a broadcast, can enhance comprehension of words that describe ice-hockey action. In their study, fans and players who heard sentences that relate to the sport showed increased activity in brain regions associated with planning and performing physical actions. That extra activity may give them a jump on parsing the lingo. Even if we’re talking about slipping one through the old five-hole—otherwise known as shooting the puck between the goalie’s legs.