Brain training boosts reaction speed by 50%

18th Nov 2008 | 18:28

Brain training boosts reaction speed by 50%

Canadian boffins accelerate athlete's responses with games

Stick with those brain training games and you could earn yourself a spot at the 2012 Olympics.

Researchers at the Universite de Montreal found that cognitive workouts for athletes can boost their reaction speeds by up to 53 per cent.

Professor Jocelyn Faubert put a dozen football, tennis and hockey players through multiple object-tracking exercises, then measured their ability to absorb and manage lots of information simultaneously.

Balls out fun

The virtual reality games consisted of following the increasingly rapid movements of a series of balls and identify those that quickly changed colour - hardly World of Warcraft but apparently very popular among aspiring Olympic champions.

"Until now there has been no tool that could rate their cognitive performance," says Faubert. "If an athlete feels both physically and mentally ready, that can only have a positive influence on his or her performance."

It seems to work - fans of Faubert's virtual brain training include a current ice hockey Olympic gold medallist and a North American boxing champ.

The next step for Faubert's flying balls is a full virtual reality set-up comprising helmet, 'cybernetic' gloves and glasses to allow for more complex movements.

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