EVERYONE’S LOOKING for an edge. That’s why we’ll freeze ourselves in cryo tanks, sweat buckets in infrared saunas, and jolt our muscles with e-stim. Now, athletes are turning to neurotechnology devices that train the brain for a leg up over the competition—even if that competition is simply beating last month’s PR.
Perhaps the most high profile (and certainly most expensive) example is the flight Trainer, a system of lights you mount on the wall or floor, which flash in accordance with a training program. You have a set amount of time to deactivate them with your hands, feet, head or a piece of equipment. The lights record reaction time, helping athletes who need lightning-fast foot- and hand-eye coordination (think soccer and basketball players) improve their speed and agility.
That improvement isn’t due to simple repetition; it’s due to changes in the brain, which neuroscientists call “plasticity.” That means it’s malleable, with the right tools. Consider a complicated city street map—the more you travel a specific route, the easier it is to remember. “It’s the same in your brain,” says Louisa Nicola, a neuroscientist and brain performance coach with Neuroathletics. “The more you perform an activity, the more second nature it becomes.” The flight Trainer helps you build more neural pathways—and use them faster and more often.
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