Using Neuroscience to Improve Athlete Performance

Using Neuroscience to Improve Athlete Performance

Improve your Athletes Performance

Athletes are quick to focus on optimizing their physical performance but rarely concentrate on how they can improve their brain function in ways that will make them think and react faster.

But it’s possible to measure certain aspects of brain function and tune up the brain, according to neuroscientist Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, a sports dad, professor and president of NeuroCatch, a medical device startup that evaluates cognitive function.

“We recently tested a college football athlete and then actually used a really available technology where you put red light therapy in a helmet,” he said. “You just do this for 10 minutes to activate the brain’s  electrical  activity, and then we retested  it and  their  cognitive  processing was 70 milliseconds faster.”

It’s unclear whether one experience with red light therapy will lead to long-term changes, but it can help in the short term, he said.

This can create an opportunity for a young athlete to play better and score more, he said.

And of course, speeding up the brain can boost kids’ confidence in sports.

Tuning up brain function can also help athletes avoid concussions because they will see potential hits and checks early and take action. This can help alleviate fears about concussions,

Testing and improving brain function is similar to testing and boosting heart function, D’Arcy said.

“You can just put sensors on and measure the brain’s electrical activity. And from that, you get a measure in milliseconds, how fast the brain is processing information. So then it becomes a simple practice of actually speeding it up,” he said.

In addition to red light therapy, treatment might include taking supplements.

D’Arcy offers these tips for sports parents:

  • Ensure athletes are eating and sleeping well.
  • Help ensure kids get enough exercise routinely.
  • Treat concussions.
  • Manage exposure to hits to the head. This can involve taking supplements.
  • Support young athletes’ interest in certain sports, rather than trying to decide which sports they should pursue.

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