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Messi's agility all in the mind: Scientists

Published on Feb 5, 2013 8:30 AM
 
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after he scored a penalty against Valencia during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, on Feb 3, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi may owe his trademark feints and body swerves to the fact his brain is busier than that of a less gifted player, according to a study into a footballers' minds.

Researchers at Britain's Brunel University found that highly skilled footballers are able to activate more areas of their brain than novices when an opposing player approaches, enabling them to react to their moves more successfully.

Published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, the research found that experienced players are able to suppress the urge to react instinctively, making them less likely to fall for opponents' attempts to trick them.

As part of the study, 39 players ranging from beginners to semi-professionals lay in an MRI brain scanner and watched clips of a junior international-level player running towards them with the ball.

 
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