Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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The new Mental Game: sport psychology, coaches, get ready!

One of the many Sharp Brains around, who is up to date of everything related to brain health and fitness (yes, Jeanne, that’s you! thanks for being such a great bureau chief!) has sent us a very interesting press note on how brain fitness and training can be applied in the sports performance world. I haven’t been able to track down the research behind the specific programs mentioned in the article, but the theoretical rationale makes sense based on similar programs we are familiar with: you can see below a summary of our interview with Prof. Daniel Gopher, scientific mind behind computer-based cognitive simulations for military pilots and for basketball players.

The note Sports Vision Training Takes Athletes to New Frontiers explains how

  • “Specialty sports vision facilities are helping athletes train skills that many believed were “untrainable”; skills like anticipation, field vision, timing, sport intelligence, game tempo, reaction speed, focus and concentration.”
  • “What has everyone all worked up is the knowledge that they can actually train athletic skills that many believed were “untrainable.” We’re talking about intangibles like anticipation, field vision, timing, sport intelligence, game tempo, reaction speed, focus and concentration. “One of the worst mistakes an athlete can make is to believe that you’re either born with or without these kinds of skills, and that they’re consequently not trainable, says Brian Stammer, editor of SportsVision Magazine. “If you want to be the best athlete you can be, you must do exercises to condition and sharpen your sensory system, including visual, auditory and brain-processing speed.
  • This is the link to the magazine they mention: SportsVision Magazine

And here is the summary of my (AF) interview with Prof. Daniel Gopher (DG) on Cognitive Simulations and cognitive training:

  • “AF: …Can you summarize your research findings across all these examples and fields, and how you see the field evolving?
  • DG: In short, I’d summarize by saying that
  • Cognitive performance can be substantially improved with proper training.
  • – It is not rigidly constrained by innate, fixed abilities.
  • Cognitive task analysis enables us to extract major cognitive skills involved in any task.
  • – Attention control and attention allocation strategies are a critical determinants in performing at top level in complex, real-time decision-making environments
  • – Those skills, and other associated, can be improved through training
  • – Research shows that stand-alone, inexpensive, PC-based training is effective to transfer and generalize performance.
  • – The key for success is to ensure Cognitive fidelity, this is, that the cognitive demands in training resemble those of the real life task.”

I encourage you to read the whole interview: one of the most thought-provoking we have done.

Here is the Basketball IntelliGym program mentioned in the interview, and a very cool 4-minutes video on how the Memphis Tigers used the program.

OK, enough about basketball. What about golf? well, it turns out Golf Digest published recently a piece on how we can regulate our emotions and improve our game!.

Is it too much to imagine that in not too many years we will have brain fitness programs/ “brain gyms” tailored for a good number of professions and activities? would you use one?

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