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Sporting Jitters Offer Insight Into The Human Brain

French neuroscientists are probing the workings of the human brain through the way the world’s top athletes perform under pressure.

Ayrton Senna (Stu Seeger)
Ayrton Senna (Stu Seeger)
Alain Perez

"It's all mental," must be one of the most loved phrases of sports commentators. Every time a skier misses a gate, a goalkeeper gives up three goals in the last 15 minutes, a tennis player double faults on match point, it is always because the athlete could not "cope with the pressure." The main culprit: stress - a sort of inner enemy that completely blocks the neurons at the crucial moment.

"There are two types of stress: the first is positive and gives access to the maximum level of performance; the second is negative and wreaks havoc within the reward circuit," explains André Nieoullon, president of the French Society for Neuroscience.

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Geopolitics

Has Lebanese Politics Finally Freed Itself Of Iran's Influence?

Lebanon's recent elections have shrunk the legislative block led by national power-brokers Hezbollah. But will a precarious new majority be able to rid the government of the long shadow of Tehran?

Supporters of pro-Iranian Hezbollah sit in a street decorated with picture of the party chief Hassan Nasrallah

Ahmad Ra'fat

-Analysis-

The results of parliamentary elections in Lebanon, have put an end to the majority block led by Hezbollah, the paramilitary group concocted by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hezbollah and its Christian allies, the Free Patriotic Movement, led by President Michel Aoun, lost their 71 seats and will now have 62 (of a total 128 seats).

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