Sports expertise: is nature or nurture to blame? No, it's the brain!

André Barreiros*, Ana Maria Abreu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


For long, people have wondered about the reasons for the superior performance of elite athletes. As it seems, researchers have been divided between reasons that pertain to nature and those that pertain to nurture. More recently, more complex interactionist theories have come to light. These theories posit that both genes and environment contribute to the development of motor expertise in a non-linear way. It is possible that this discussion might never be resolved. Here, we propose that instead of concentrating on the reasons "why", we concentrate on the "how", i.e., brain function associated to motor expertise. There is much support for specific neural activation associated to expertise in sports. Here we discuss some of the main findings in this area and propose that by understanding the motor expert brain, we might optimize training and, ultimately, performance. Crucially, we suggest that neurofeedback techniques might constitute an important tool to achieve this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-312
Number of pages6
JournalRevista Iberoamericana de Psicologia del Ejercicio y el Deporte
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Expert brain
  • Expertise in sports
  • Neurofeedback


Dive into the research topics of 'Sports expertise: is nature or nurture to blame? No, it's the brain!'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this