Monday, March 15, 2010

Brain Training for Peak Performance in Sports

Gulf Digest calls it the "hottest piece of equipment on the tour".  Sports teams such as NBA--Miami Heat, PGA--Vijay Singh, Glen Day,   NFL--Miami Dolphins, NHL--Florida Panthers, University of Notre Dame, Syracuse University,University of North Carolina, and the University of Miami use it, too.  So, what is it?  It's the Interactive Metronome, a computer based training program that has been shown to improve attention, coordination and timing for individuals.

In order to optimize a golf swing or  playing football, a number of activities integrating the brain and the muscles have to occur such as  dynamic processing () and integration between attention/concentration, motor planning (knowing the sequence and timing of  actions), sensory- motor coordination, timing, mental organization, and sequencing(which activity comes first and which is next)  are required.  It has been long recognized by sports champions that excelling at sports requires a mental component as well as a physical one.  There is a lot written about how to get into an inner game of tennis or golf.   Most of this requires thought directing the body. 

Apparently, the pathways to achieving the perfect shot are a lot more complex than just the interaction between the brain, eye and a particular muscle group.  Other pathways are important to the process such as the pathways directing the sense of balance (vestibular system) and the auditory system.  Training of precise timing in motor skills is linked to the timing found in the auditory system.  The Interactive Metronome works by augmenting internal processing speed within the neuroaxis and increasing “cognitive efficiency” in the information-processing bottleneck.  It is by increasing the brain's processing speed and improving its information processing, that the Interactive Metronome improves performance in sports and academics.