Go to main contentGo to footer
Sport and Wellness

Neuroscience for Sports

Sports and competitive performance represent a fertile area of investigation and intervention for the application of neuroscience.

Learn how the Pallanti Method used by specialists at the Institute of Neuroscience can be applied to Sports to improve performance, shorten recovery times, and reduce post-traumatic vascular damage.

The Pallanti Method

A Revolution in Clinical Neuroscience

The activities of the Istituto di Neuroscienze are organized following the "Pallanti Method", an innovative and revolutionary project in the field of clinical neuroscience that combines a wide range of multidisciplinary and multimodal therapeutic skills, with the aim of addressing and overcoming the individual and collective needs of those who come to our center.

The Pallanti Method embodies a new paradigm, a new way of doing Science, by focusing on the person in all his or her everyday multifacetedness that includes the work domain, interpersonal relationships, and life perspectives. This approach strives to balance the respect for the individuality of the person with the application of the most advanced and scientifically proven techniques and therapies designed to improve performance, increase energy, accelerate functional recovery, and prevent injury.

The Scientific Bases of the Pallanti Method ― Neuromodulation Therapy

One of the fundamental pillars of the Pallanti Method is Neuromodulation Therapy: a group of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques that employ physical, magnetic, electrical and light stimuli to promote Neurogenesis, i.e. the process of forming new neurons. In some cases, such stimuli are also able to trigger an anti-inflammatory and healing reaction of the supporting glial cells, thus helping to enhance neuroplasticity. This means promoting the replication of neurons and the creation of new connections (synapses) between them.

The Processes Underlying Neuromodulation Therapy ― Neuroplasticity

The notion of Neuroplasticity ― introduced thanks to the contributions of eminent scientists such as Rita Levi Montalcini (awarded with the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the Nerve Growth Factor), Eric Kandel, Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard (awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine) ― reveals the extraordinary ability of the human brain to change its structure and functioning over the course of a lifetime, allowing brain cells to differentiate and replicate, paving the way for constant brain remodeling.

Neuroplasticity represents the key to understanding the brain's remarkable ability to adapt and evolve over the entire life span, allowing the constant formation of new neurons and the creation of ever-evolving synaptic connections.

Sports gestures originate in the brain

The art of movement guided by the brain

When we see the magnificent gesture of an athlete, echoes of the Homeric heroes of divine agility flash back in our minds: the "brilliant swift-footed Achilles” and the hand of Diomedes hurling the javelin. When narrating the Homeric hero's extraordinary athletic feats, it seems that the originator of such acts is not himself, but a Divinity that protects and moves him so that his destiny of glory can be fulfilled.

The everyday expressions that we use, such as " soccer players with good feet", reflect metaphors rooted in ancient mythology that persist in our subconscious. It takes an effort of rationality to understand that these wonderful athletic gestures are not the result of fate or divinity, but emerge from an extraordinary and extremely rapid concatenation of neural events happening in the brains of sporting champions.

It is essential to understand that athletic gestures do NOT arise from leg speed or sleight of hand, but rather from the athletes' brains and their neural connections. The talent of top athletes, therefore, is not only the result of innate abilities, but also and more importantly of continuous meticulous training and a series of conditionings that refine the brain's connectivity by improving its synchrony and harmony over time, eventually resulting in the expression of very effective athletic gestures that are also generally very beautiful to watch. This synergy between mind and body is the core of exceptional athletic gestures.

Athletic gestures, then, originate in the brain and in the quick sensations that converge there from the body in a lightning process of which we now know the involved brain circuits and muscular-tendinous structures. Neuroscience has shed light on these mechanisms and thus opened the way for the possibility of applying some of the methodologies used to treat behavioral disorders for the purpose of improving athletic performance as well. Using neuroscience knowledge and method, it then becomes possible to explore, track and refine each athletic gesture in order to achieve the best possible performance.

In this context, the application of Neuromodulation Techniques has the potential to improve the integration between mind and action, encouraging learning and information recall processes related to behavioral patterns, particular play schemes, or specific athletic gestures. This new frontier, known as Cognitive Fitness, is capable not only of improving sports performance but also of contributing to the prevention of risks possibly associated with intense physical activity.


Training the brain for better performance: How neuroscience can improve sports performance

Sports and competitive performance represent a fertile area of investigation and intervention for the application of neuroscience.

At the Zucchi Wellness Clinic's Centro di Neuroscienze per la Salute, Dr. Stefano Pallanti and his team apply Neuromodulation Techniques to increase the brain's potential and facilitate the achievement of sports goals.

Neuromodulation Techniques

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

The different types of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) represent non-invasive and non-pharmacological therapies that use magnetic field to stimulate or inhibit specific brain areas, proving to be highly effective for the treatment of many disorders, including Resistant Depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Discover more


At the Istituto di Neuroscienze, we use Neurofeedback to treat ADHD, Learning Disorders, Anxiety, Phobias, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it is also used in sports or by agencies such as NASA to improve alertness and promote high-level performance.

Discover more

Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation (tDCS)

tDCS is a completely painless neuromodulation therapy that is particularly suitable for children because of the high degree of freedom of movement it allows, used in numerous treatment and rehabilitation settings.

Discover more

Photo-Bio-Modulation (PBM)

The latest technology for treating the Central Nervous System and particularly suitable for children, which uses increased cerebral blood flow to stimulate brain metabolism and promote neuroplasticity processes.

Discover more

Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) activates the nerve that connects several neurophysiological pathways that regulate neuroinflammation processes, enabling the improvement of essential body functions.

Discover more

Light Therapy

Light Therapy uses exposure to bright light that can restore the balance between melatonin and serotonin through optic nerve stimulation, regularizing circadian sleep-wake rhythms, improving mood, appetite, and sleep quality.

Discover more

Energy & Performance

Optimized Energy and Performance thanks to Photo-Bio-Modulation

Photo-Bio-Modulation (PBM) is one of the latest innovations in the field of technologies currently available for the modulation of the Central Nervous System.

By using infrared light (NIR), Photo-Bio-Modulation is able to effectively penetrate the scalp areas where light stimulation is applied, increasing blood flow, as evidenced by MRI studies. In this way, thanks to Photo-Bio-Modulation, it is possible to be able to stimulate brain metabolism, modulating crucial biological functions, promoting neuroplasticity and reducing inflammation and oxidative stress through the modulation of endogenous opioids.

In addition, Photo-Bio-Modulation is shown to have a beneficial impact on damaged brain cells, especially on their mitochondria, i.e., intracellular subunits that release energy as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The red light photons emitted by Photo-Bio-Modulation are able to penetrate the cells by stimulating the mitochondria to produce more ATP. Through this kind of stimulation, it is possible to experience beneficial effects of increased mental clarity and acuity and improved overall energy levels. As a result, faster healing of physical injuries, lesser effects of trauma and improved body energy efficiency can be observed.

The NIR light emitted by the Photo-Bio-Modulation device is also able to penetrate within cells ion channels, activating several signaling pathways, increasing the expression of transcription factors and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as well as increasing the expression of protective genes.

These multiple actions of Photo-Bio-Modulation seem to be able to invigorate different biological tissues, including skin and, in particular, nervous system tissues, improving their plasticity and overall energy and vitality.

The effect of Photo-Bio-Modulation on Sports Performance


Improved attention and motor coordination.


Improved sleep for better performance.


Promotion of recovery from sports-related head injuries.


Increased VO2Max consumption.


Shortened recovery times for more effective trainings.

The Services of the Istituto di Neuroscienze for Sports

Screening and individualized assessment

Through a careful neuro-scientific medical evaluation, it will be possible to identify athletes most at risk for concussion brain damage that can lower performance.

― Neurophysiological testing

― Qualitative EEG

― Attentional skills testing

― Bromural examinations

― Test for CLL11 protein

― Laboratory tests for level II and III diagnosis

― Sleep study

― Neurofunctional study

― Psychological and motivational analysis

― Behavioral immunology

― Genetic and familial examinations

Energy-up treatment

An evidence-based intervention plan tailored to the needs of the individual athlete.

― Photo-Bio-Modulation (PBM)

― Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

― Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

― Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

― Light Therapy

― Psychological Therapies

― Microbiota Therapies

― Mental and Motivational Training

Effective interventions

Through our interventions, we are able to ensure important results in sports performance.

― Sleep improvement

― Functional recovery

― Management of performance anxiety

― Improvement of attention

Why choose Dr. Pallanti's Istituto di Neuroscienze?

  • Dr. Stefano Pallanti and Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone ― Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone is a world leader in the development of transcranial magnetic stimulation for applications in cognitive neuroscience and for therapeutic applications in neurology, psychiatry and neurorehabilitation.

  • Dr. Stefano Pallanti during a TMS session.

  • Alessandro Del Piero and Prof. Roberto Piga ― Prof. Roberto Piga is the coach of world sport champions such as Alessandro Del Piero, Alberto Tomba, Alessandro Andrei, Romano Michele and Alberto Morelli.

  • Giuseppe Abbagnale with Dr. Stefano Pallanti ― Giuseppe Abbagnale is an Olympic rowing champion and president of the Italian Rowing Federation.