The human brain is incredibly complex and utterly fascinating. Complex because we have around 100 billion neurons in our brain and yet it weighs only around 1.4 kilograms. Fascinating because while it is the centre of thought, when it malfunctions the brain can trick us into an incorrect perception of reality. So while we have unlimited evidence that the potential of the human brain is extraordinary, how do we genuinely maximise our brain health?

Being an elite athlete or an elite soldier requires physical preparation, mental focus and emotional control. Incredibly, these individuals strategize, perceive their surroundings, and perform often incredibly complex movements while remaining calm and alert. At that moment, at that time, under extreme pressure, why do some individuals cope and function better than others? While we can appreciate the intricate link between the brain and the body, in an Olympic Final or in a combat environment, the brain will ultimately control success or failure.

Given how important our brain health and our brain function is, we are now starting to understand the workings of the brain, how to optimise it and what to do when things go wrong. It has only been in the last decade or so that scientists have been able to use exciting technology to peer inside the human brain. Although there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the brain, we now have sufficient information from neuroscience, psychology and behavioural science that we can harness to both understand and optimise our brain.

In this book Dr Sullivan and Chris Parker have taken this information and presented it in an easily digestible format. The first step to optimising our brain is understanding its makeup, how it operates and how we can train it. John and Chris do this and then address aspects of health that we normally only associate with the body (nutrition, exercise, recovery, sleep) and explain how it also relates to the brain.

They have also relieved us of the task of searching through the scientific literature, by critically analysing the science and using evidence-based practice. Finally, the book is structured in a unique format utilising the latest knowledge of how the brain learns and how we retain information.

From a sport science perspective and from the perspective of having worked with elite athletes for a number of years, examining and enhancing the athlete’s brain is the next frontier in making our athletes stronger, higher and faster. However, the principal of optimising our brain health is relevant to every individual, whether an elite performer on the field, in combat, in the boardroom or simply for individuals who want to make the most of their mental health and well-being.

In the ‘Brain Always Wins’ John and Chris bring together the most recent advances in research and practical strategies – this book contains an abundance of both intellectual and human information that you can apply to everyday life. Although we still do not fully understand the boundaries of the human brain, it is information such as this that allows us to explore and push our own unique boundaries.

Shona Halson PhD
Senior Physiologist
Australian Institute of Sport
Australian Sports Commission          



The Brain Always Wins Forward: 
Dr. Shona Halson

Australian Institute of Sport