Unveiling NeurOlympics: AZ’s Cognitive Scouting Tool

 A player undergoing a cognitive test via NeurOlympics.

With the rising significance of cognitive training in elite sports, understanding the brain’s role becomes pivotal. Several enterprises offer cognitive training solutions for athletes. Today, we delve into “NeurOlympics” by Brainfirst, the innovative scouting tool harnessed by AZ.

AZ’s Dive into Cognitive Testing

On April 11, 2017, NOS reported AZ’s venture into cognitive testing. Along with PSV, AZ pioneers in utilizing cognitive assessments. Prospects, in addition to standard football tests, undergo cognitive evaluations. NeurOlympics profiles the brain via games played on tablets or PCs. This ‘brain profile’ pinpoints a player’s unique strengths. Paul Brandenburg, AZ’s youth academy head, acknowledges the profound insights offered by these profiles. He notes variations in performance expectations versus test outcomes.

Exploring NeurOlympics

Powered by Brainfirst, NeurOlympics evaluates cognitive capabilities through four interactive games. This online test, taking roughly 45 minutes, provides immediate feedback on the brain’s performance.

National media channels like NOS & Editie NL spotlighted NeurOlympics

However, the adoption of cognitive tests for scouting isn’t universal. KNVB’s spokesperson, Koen Adriaanse, suggests further research before its broad implementation.

Beyond Sports: Cognitive Games in Business

The corporate sector, seeking standout talent, also embraces cognitive games. NeurOlympics aids in scouting business talents. Beyond typical job interviews, a brain profile can be decisive. High-stakes professions, such as air traffic control, demand unwavering concentration. Research indicates that working memory crucially influences concentration, a factor that can sway hiring decisions.

Although unfamiliar to me personally, if science is any indicator, NeurOlympics holds promise for athletes. I concur with Brandenburg; every piece of information is invaluable for scouting and training young footballers. Cognitive attributes like learning capacity, focus, and inhibition—all executive system components—are critical for footballers. Nowadays, targeted training of these traits via cognitive games is feasible. It’s essential to remember that the executive system matures around 25. As Neuropsychologist Jelle Jolles phrases it, “A slow-growing tree might ultimately become the tallest.” More on scouting and cognitive tests soon.

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