Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia have conducted an extensive review of the application of Neuroergonomics in elite athletes. Their findings provide intriguing insights into the unique brain functions of top-tier athletes.Read more: Neuroergonomics in Elite Sports: Queensland University’s Study
Unraveling the Athlete’s Brain with CNS Tests
In their quest to understand the intricate workings of an athlete’s brain, researchers have often employed neuropsychological tests (CNS). These tests, which can be taken on paper, computer, or tablet, suggest that cognitive functions such as attention, perception, and working memory are more pronounced in elite athletes.
The Evolution of Neuroergonomic Tools
Beyond CNS, there are several instruments available to delve deeper into the athlete’s mind. Neuroergonomic tools, as researched by Sok Joo Tan and his colleagues at the University of Queensland, seek to analyze the plethora of studies focused on understanding the athlete’s brain.
Probing Deeper: fMRI & its Limitations
Functional MRI, or fMRI, showcases brain activity in a three-dimensional format. Interestingly, top-tier footballers display heightened brain activity in areas governing executive functions and hand-eye coordination. However, the constraints of an fMRI, which requires athletes to lie in a tunnel, can distort the results due to the unrealistic setting.
The Potential of fNIRS
fNIRS technology measures the blood’s oxygen levels in specific brain regions, revealing their involvement during various tasks. Notably, research with air traffic controllers demonstrated heightened prefrontal cortex activity during complex tasks. While Sok Joo Tan and his team see potential in this method, conclusive scientific evidence remains sparse.
Visual Scanning: The Quiet Eye Strategy
Visual scanning plays a pivotal role in elite sports. A strategy known as “Quiet Eye” involves athletes fixing their gaze on a target before executing a move. Tools like the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 have been developed to measure this phenomenon. Check out more in this video.
Mobile EEG Devices: A Glimpse into Brain Waves
Our brain communicates through electrical signals. EEG headsets, like the mobile EMOTIV Headsets, measure these signals, categorizing them into different waves, each with its frequency. Learn more about this fascinating technology in this video.
The Future of Neuroergonomics
While tools like Pro Glasses and mobile EEG devices offer a wealth of information, devising reliable and valid tests remains challenging. However, Sok Joo Tan and his colleagues believe in the vast potential of Neuroergonomics. They envision a future where real-time heart rate data could be combined with brain data and eye-tracking. But before this becomes a reality, these tools need to become even more reliable. Stay tuned for more updates on Neuroergonomics.