Core training is just the beginning. When it comes to evolving performance, there are lots of ways to add dual-tasks that transform NeuroTracker training. Let’s take a look at 5 ways to ramp up the neurophysical payload of each session.
1. Extensive Training
This is the tried and tested method of simply sticking at it. Although NeuroTracker learning happens most rapidly in the first 15-30 sessions of training, results show that people keep improving with long term training, even after hundreds of sessions.
Performance Psychology Coach Rob Gronbeck is an example of a NeuroTracker veteran who has completed 600+ sessions, and in the process has quadrupled his processing power.
With NeuroTracker Pro, there are also a range of different session types to use in training programs, such as ‘Overload’, ‘Target’, and ‘Tactical’. These still use the Core NeuroTracker method, but place extra demands on specific cognitive skills, such as sustained, selective and divided attention.
A study back in 2012 called ‘Perceptual-Cognitive Training of Athletes’ found that even just the difference between standing compared to sitting, adds cognitive loads that impact NeuroTracker performance. Based on later research, the NeuroTracker Learning System was developed to harness the cognitive loads of physical tasks while NeuroTracking.
Essentially this involves two stages, firstly ‘consolidation’ training of just NeuroTracker while sitting. This prepares the brain for learning. Secondly, training with physical tasks, starting with simple activities such as basic balance tasks, progressing to increasingly difficult tasks over time.
The advantage here is that research shows the brain and body adapt to manage these combined neurophysical loads, providing larger gains than training on each task separately. Physical dual-tasks can be based around motor-skills, where the focus is technically difficult movements such as balancing on a bosu ball. Or they can be exercise based, such as using an exercise bike for cardio load, or weight-lifting for strength load. These can also be performed in a circuit training fashion, demonstrated here by Mick Clegg at Elite Lab.
3. Skill Specific Dual-Tasks
Skill tasks are a refinement of physical dual-tasks, focusing on certain skills used in sports. An example is basketball dribbling while NeuroTracking.
Ideally, the skills used should be based on sports demands that are difficult to perform under the pressure of competition. They can also include physical tasks such as balance, as shown here for soccer.
A benefit here is that real-world skills can be tested under pressure, simulating the mental demands of competition. If NeuroTracker scores drop drastically as a result, this reveals a lack of ability to maintain situational awareness. Taking this concept to the extreme, a recent study even combined NeuroTracking with jet pilot flight, revealing that advanced maneuvers drained almost all of the pilots ‘spare cognitive capacity’.
4. Perceptual-Cognitive Dual-Tasks
NeuroTracker itself is a perceptual-cognitive task, so here we’re adding additional loads to the same performance domain. Any task that presents a mental challenge is valid, even something as simple as counting down from one hundred in steps of three will add a working memory load.
A dedicated training option in NeuroTracker is ‘Agility’ mode, which fires beams at the person training as they try to dodge them (measured with motion tracking). This tests 3D trajectory perception for predicting action responses – dodge left or right. It’s surprisingly difficult, most people find their NeuroTracker scores initially drop to about one-third of their normal score.
Perceptual-cognitive tasks can also take the form of passive sensory stimulation. A study to be published by Kim Dorsch at the University of Regina played crowd noise from a football stadium to stimulate auditory processing while NeuroTracking. Another example is the NeuroTracker ‘Optic Flow’ mode, which delivers normal training but within a huge undulating tunnel. This adds the visual demands involved with processing backwards and forwards motion. As it tests balance systems that depend on optic flow, it has been used to research the effects of concussions.
5. Tactical Awareness
Originally used by elite special forces such as the Navy Seals, NeuroTracker Tactical Awareness is designed to train situational awareness and decision-making capacities under pressure. It involves perceiving tactical scenes displayed directly behind the NeuroTracker balls, interpreting them, and then making decisions on them – such as shoot or don’t shoot.
This training mode was actually developed for sports in collaboration with Atlanta Falcons quarter back star Matt Ryan, who wanted to be able to simulate the attentional demands of competition while recognizing play formations and pass opportunities. In an interview with the New York Times he stated NeuroTracker improved his spatial awareness and his ability “to be able to see things and how they relate to each other really quickly”.
Tactical Awareness is an advanced and performance specific mode of training. As such, it’s geared towards professional team-sport athletes who need to deal with complex patterns of play.
Although these 5 ways to evolve NeuroTracker training vary a lot in their approach, they can actually be mixed and matched with each other to provide endless combinations of neurophysical training.
You can read other dual-task related blogs here.
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