In the last blog we covered tips for running users through their first session, and in the next blog in this 3 part series, we’ll go into running advanced training. For this 2nd blog however, the focus is on managing sessions on the path to improvement. We’ll go through handy know-how on what to pay attention to, interpreting results, and giving feedback.
Even though NeuroTracker is a form of cognitive training, your user’s psychological state of mind can be observed while performing a session, providing useful insights into their mindset under mental pressure.
Some key things to look out for include the following.
- Patterns of body language through different session phases
- Fidgeting and changing seating or standing position
- Emotional reactions, particularly when any errors are made
- Verbal responses
- Breathing rate, especially if this pauses at high speeds
- Changes in head angle when targets drift
- Any signs of distraction, such as looking away from the screen
- Pauses when selecting or calling out targets
It’s not uncommon for users to display many of these observably, particularly in the early stages of training. Generally, they will reveal how a user finds it challenging to hone their attention and mental focus. More importantly, these patterns tend to improve with on-going NeuroTracker training. For this reason, they can be valuable indicators or even predictors of your users’ mindset and self-control getting stronger over time.
For instance, it’s common for individuals with ADHD to fidget and swing their legs when sitting on a stool, and many clinicians note that these behaviors noticeably reduce within just a couple of hours of distributed training. For this reason, note taking is recommended so that such traits can be monitored objectively. This will allow you to provide your users with structured feedback that will not only boost their motivation, but also help them be self-observant of the training benefits in their daily life.
Finally, evaluate if these types of behavioral and psychological factors improve whenever back-to-back NeuroTracker sessions are performed. If so, it likely means that NeuroTracker is helping users get into an optimal learning state, that will help them perform better at any other types of training that follow. This is a NeuroTracker strategy that many types of professional trainers use to get the most out of integrated training programs.
Assessing Cognitive State
It’s useful to briefly assess your users’ state of mind and well-being before starting a session. For example, are they fatigued from other training, work or study? Did they sleep well the night before? When did they last eat? Have they taken any medications? How are their stress levels? These are all factors that can influence their NeuroTracker performance precisely because the task elicits their concentration and attention, at whatever their current limits are.
Again, making notes on such factors can provide insights into each individual’s mental abilities. For instance, if NeuroTracker scores are consistently low following poor sleep, and high following good sleep, then this reveals how important sleep is to their performance in anything which requires serious mental focus and attention.
As we’ve discussed, it’s best to evaluate results relative to the individual’s pre-existing cognitive state, which can vary day to day. Taking this one step further, it’s recommended that when using NeuroTracker results as an assessment, that the average of the last 3 session scores are referenced. This is called a current baseline, which provides a much more reliable measure than a single session score.
This can then be compared to a user initial baseline (their first 3 sessions), which provides a scientific measure of overall training improvement. Then when comparing scores to other users, or general populations, both the baseline scores and the relative improvement rate can be used to determine how well a user is progressing in their program.
Lastly, overall improvement rates, or learning curves, can be used to predict the rate at which users will continue to get better at NeuroTracker. This can be a great motivational tool, because it allows you to set targets for on-going training, allowing a user to compete with their future self!
In the previous blog we touched on how critical feedback is after a user’s first ever NeuroTracker session. However, giving feedback never stops being important – it is a key way to motivate your users over time.
A simple but powerful way to give ongoing feedback is to frequently compare session results and current baselines to your users’ initial baselines. This helps emphasize how far the training is taking them overall, rather than over focusing on one session result compared to the previous one. Most users experience gains of 50% or more in their speed thresholds within a few hours of distributed training, so it’s worth frequently reminding them whenever they are able to flex their mental muscle at new levels.
Following on here, it helps if users can see when these benefits transfer to their real-world performance. For this, you need to ask them to self-evaluate and report their findings to you on a regular basis, which will allow you to analyze any changes from the perspective of NeuroTracker results.
Lastly, and for the reasons we mentioned earlier, not every NeuroTracker is a good day. This is normal and can provide useful insights into performance influences in daily life. More importantly, you need to explain to users that they will still get benefits from training even when their scores are lower than normal – it’s simply harder work for their brains that day.
Overall, being observant of your users and taking a bit of extra time to interpret their results and give qualitative feedback will go a long way in helping them get the most out of their training. Look out for our next blog where there will be tips on how to take your training programs to the next level. If you missed the first blog, you can read it here.
About Maxim Chevrier
Maxime Chevrier, founder of Synapse Plus, is a Sports Psychology Consultant and has been a Professor in psychology at the College of Valleyfield since 2008. Maxime is best known as a performance specialist.
Throughout his youth, Maxime played at the highest levels of competitive hockey. After completing his studies in psychology at UQTR, Maxime was determined to pursue his desire to work with athletes in this highly specialized area. He is one of the first to be fully trained with NeuroTracker and to use it for performance, attention issues, concussion management and much more. Maxime works with many professional athletes and teams, to accelerate their recovery and increase their performance after experiencing any form of head trauma. Maxime’s track record is justified by his extensive years of experience in this field, which have benefitted many proven and up-and-coming Amateur, Professional and Olympic Athletes who attribute some of their highest levels of performance to the Neuroplasticity Training administered by Maxime. Maxime also co-authored the book, used by several psychology curriculums at both the collegiate and university levels, titled “Psychopathology: An Integrated Approach” and published in 2011 and re-edited in 2017.
A large emphasis of Maxime’s work is focused on cognitive training and on concussion-prevention practices and techniques, as well as rehabilitation exercises that help players recover from concussion symptoms. Moreover, Maxime is also very aware of the fact that athletes also deal with unusual amounts of stress and other issues. Maxime aims to help athletes remain focused by mentally preparing them to perform to their best ability. Find out more at www.synapseplus.com
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