Change Your Game with Brain and Vision Training
We are fortunate to be a part of one of the most all-encompassing facilities in the country, Diamond Edge Academy. We sat down with two of the other aspects that Diamond Edge Academy has to offer, Dr. Demetrios Patos (NeuroSportZone pictured left) and Dr. Ross McKay (Athlete’s Edge Vision Training pictured right), and talked to them about how sports and training is evolving and how their services can greatly benefit any athlete!
Achieve: Tell me about how sports science has evolved?
Dr. Patos: There is a growing concern in the US about the fact that coaches don’t actually pay as much attention to the brain of the athlete and the role it plays in the betterment of an athlete as opposed to improving their physical brawn. There has been rapid development in fields such as physiology, biomechanics, and in particular, brain science. Research has been conducted on how important the brain actually is in sports, be it hockey, football, soccer, baseball, and basketball. Research on athlete’s cognitive abilities have come to the forefront just as important as their technical and physical abilities.
New research has revealed that myelin (white matter), is a neural insulator, which is related to how we acquire complex skills. Myelin sheath effectively makes some neural connections more effective than others and is unarguably an important factor in speed transmission. Research has found that all world-class performers have one thing in common: Great Speed of Transmission of Nerve Pathways
This is where Brain Timing Training (Interactive Metronome) can help increase speed of transmission. It works on the myelin to improve the resolution and efficiency of an athletes’ internal brain clock(s) and temporal processing resulting in more efficient brain connectivity, communication, and synchronization via increased integrity of the brain's white matter tract communication system. This helps to produce more efficient communication between critical brain networks.
Achieve: Tell me about the importance of brain training is elite level sports performance?
Dr. Patos: Athletes are well aware of the importance of rhythm and timing, focus, coordination and split-second decision making. Anyone who has, fouled off a pitch, missed a buzzer-beating shot, or finished second by a fraction of a second knows that it was a matter of milliseconds between victory and defeat. Sometimes good just isn’t good enough; it’s time to be great!
That is where Brain Timing Training (Interactive Metronome) can help. Brain Timing Training has been used by athletes of various disciplines, both amateur and professional, with great success. Whether you are swinging a golf club or baseball bat or winding up for a slapshot, coordinated movement is responsible for your success. Greater neural efficiency results in more efficient brain connectivity, communication, and synchronization between the essential brain networks. To put it simply, restoring your brain’s RHYTHM and TIMING results in improved processing and more fluid movement.
This timing in the brain, or temporal processing, has been shown to be deficient in individuals with slower or impaired motor skills. Brain Timing Training is a completely different form of brain training because it involves both motor and sensory integration. (Only piece of equipment that does both)
Brain Timing Training (IM) is the only training program that improves timing in the brain in an organized, systematic, flexible and engaging format. Brain Timing Training can be compared to physical fitness training such as muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular exercises, except it’s focused on brain fitness.
Dr. McKay: Experts, in any field, “see” more than their less experienced counterparts. Obviously, their eyes are getting the same information about their surroundings, but the difference lies in how the brain processes visual information. The brain has to sort through and filter out information it gets from the eyes so you’re not constantly overstimulated with irrelevant information. Elite athletes, be it through years of practice or targeted training programs, don’t filter out as much. They know what to look for and they use this additional information to anticipate their opponents moves and predict where a ball/puck will land. Whereas a beginner will simply react once the move has been executed or once the ball/puck is in reach, elite athletes anticipate. Not to mention this anticipation helps prevent injury and therefore time spent off the field in recovery.
For the less experienced, getting to that next level might seem daunting, but with the right training, you can fast track that advancement. Vision training can help athletes gather more information from their surroundings in order to anticipate rather than simply react. Visual training teaches athletes to pay more attention to their periphery, pay attention to multiple tasks at once, and correctly processes visual information to execute a movement. All of this allows them to take in more information that they can use to make better decisions on the field.
Strobe glasses especially force athletes to not only rely on what they see, but use what they already know. Strobe glasses prevent the athlete from tracking the ball, so they must accommodate by looking at the trajectory in order to anticipate where the ball will be. This is what being an elite athlete requires. Vision training helps target the brain processes that separate the best from the rest.
Achieve: In addition to sports, how does what both of you do help with focus and concentration outside of sports?
Dr. Patos: For more than 30 years, neuroscientists have explored the role of timing in the brain for such things as speech perception (auditory processing), speech production (intelligible articulation), language, reading, attention, memory, cognitive processing speed, decision-making, behavior (impulse-control), and motor coordination. Over the past 10-15 years, they’ve turned their focus toward studying how deficient neural communication (impaired timing in the brain) contributes to various clinical disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Parkinson’s. “Timing in the brain” remains a very active area of research with new studies being published regularly.
Peer-reviewed research supports the view that impaired timing in the brain contributes significantly to impairments in the above-named skill areas. Research also supports the opinion that timing in the brain can be trained and improved through appropriate, targeted intervention.
Dr. McKay: Many of the tasks that athletes perform as part of their training require complete attention. While the tasks may be shorter than the span of a class, exercising attention in a way that is interesting helps athletes maintain focus for longer periods of time in addition to boosting their confidence.
In order to focus and coordinate function, different areas of the brain will sync their neuron firing patterns to ease communication. Children with attention disorders have been shown to not have enough syncing of these neurons. When these children (or any children) perform the tasks we give them, their brains will start to coordinate different areas as they become focused on the task. Just like exercising a muscle, using the brain circuitry required for concentration strengthens that pathway so the next time you use it, it’s not as hard. By using these circuits and forcing the brain to sync for a short amount of time, children will start to show improvement in their ability to maintain focus for longer periods of time, not only on the field but in the classroom as well. Vision training is also a brain workout!
Achieve: How is the work that you do proven scientifically?
Dr. Patos: Research shows that combining whole body movements with cognitive tasks leads to overall better outcomes. Brain Timing Training (Interactive Metronome) is a patented and unique training tool that challenges thinking and movement simultaneously, providing real-time millisecond feedback to help synchronize the body’s “internal clock.” Now, Brain Timing Training doesn’t have to take time away from your sports training. With IM-Home, you can complete your training in the comfort of your home or gym before you begin your athletic regimen. Please visit www.interactivemetronome.com or www.neurosportzone.com for a full list of Research References. At Neurosportzone we use Brain processing speed objective baseline testing which provides information about the function of different aspects of your brain’s neural networks.
An athlete could seem completely fine without any indications of any symptoms and doing well in their game. However, small glitches in brain function can be what is holding them back from achieving an even higher level of performance. Athletes are instructed to synchronize various hand and foot exercises to a reference tone heard through headphones. The athlete attempts to match hand clapping while wearing a glove with palm trigger. A patented audio or audio and visual guidance system provides immediate feedback. The difference between the player’s performance and the computer-generated beat is measured in milliseconds. The score provided indicates timing accuracy. A low millisecond (ms) score indicates improved timing and overall performance.
Objective testing provides data regarding ability to process time, focus and plan/execute voluntary fine motor sequences. The assessment examines timing and rhythm using upper and lower extremities bilaterally and in isolation. Motor skills, such as coordination, balance, weight shifting, crossing midline, and reversing movement direction, are examined. Cognitive skills such as focused attention, selective attention, sustained attention, attention-shifting, vigilance, task persistence, auditory processing, sequencing, self-monitoring, and self-control are also examined.
Dr. McKay: In recent years, the University of Cincinnati has been a champion of vision training research in sports. In observing their baseball team, they found that vision training significantly improved the team’s overall batting average. Vision training for the football team resulted in a monumental decrease in the amount of concussions per year, even as other universities were reporting an increasing number of concussions. A separate 2001 study by Shaffer, et al. shows significant attentional improvement in young boys with ADHD after vision training.
While vision training might be a broader term, there are countless scientific studies supporting the notion that strobe glasses improve athletic performance. Everything from attention to anticipation to simple accuracy have been measured and all of these areas show improvement following vision training.
These are just a few examples of the studies that have been done on vision training. The support behind vision training is not just your run of the mill athlete endorsements or in-house research studies, it’s science. There are countless studies supporting vision training that have faced stringent scientific scrutiny, and yet we see the same thing over and over again. Vision training works. It improves attention, perceptual abilities, and ultimately athletic performance.
For more information on their services and how they can help, please give them a call!
NeuroSportZone - (708) 567-6301
Athlete's Edge Vision Training - (630) 795-1800