How to Interpret your Athlete’s Cognitive Data.

In this article, we cover each measure that Soma NPT monitors and what to do if those measures are not trending in the right direction.

How to Interpret your Athlete’s Cognitive Data.

In this article, we cover each measure that Soma NPT monitors and what to do if those measures are not trending in the right direction. If you are not up to play with all the cognitive and physiological measures Soma NPT monitors, please check out the article below.

Understanding your Athlete's Cognitive Data.

Understanding your Athlete’s Cognitive Data.
Understanding your Athlete’s Cognitive Data.

Interpreting your Athlete’s Cognitive Data.

Generally speaking, if your athletes cognitive training plan is well structured with sufficient load you should see an athlete's,

  • Reaction Time Decrease
  • Speed Increase
  • Variation Decrease
  • RCS Increase
  • Accuracy Increase

When cognitive measures begin to trend in the wrong direction, it can be frustrating for both athlete and coach. Below we have outlined what steps to take to fix these issues. We give possible reasons, suggest the application of specialised training modes, and provide other methods for getting your athlete's cognitive training back on track.

Cognitive Task Measure

Reaction Time

Reaction Time is the amount of time it takes to respond to a stimulus, measured in milliseconds (thousands of a second).

High Reaction Time

An increase in reaction time over the course of a cognitive training plan may indicate that an athlete is playing it safe and slowing down their responses in order to increase their accuracy or they are struggling with the demands of the cognitive task. If the data is indicating that an athlete's reaction time is not improving we suggest applying the below modes to their cognitive training plan to optimise their reaction time.

ADM Mode

ADM mode is designed to automatically increase or decrease difficulty based on correct responses. This mode tracks variations in performance and adjusts task difficulty in order to titrate the cognitive stress placed on the athlete’s brain.

EDM Mode

EDM mode is designed to give athletes live response feedback. If an athlete makes a mistake, they will want to avoid another mistake, and so to make this happen they might adopt a strategy of slowing down after incorrect responses. By applying EDM mode you are giving athletes real-time feedback to optimise cognitive performance after incorrect responses. If you have applied EDM mode via Soma Analytics to a task you will be able to see an athlete's Reaction Time (RT) and EDM Reaction time (EDM) on the tooltip.  If an athlete has adopted a strategy to avoid making future mistakes this will reflect in a slower EDM reaction time.

Low Reaction Time

A decrease in reaction time will indicate that the athlete has improved their processing speed but this must also be matched with variation, if the variation is the same or higher this would indicate that there has not been an improvement in cognitive performance. If you find that the athlete's reaction time has decreased along with variation, good! We suggest applying specialized training modes that are in line with your athlete's needs to keep challenging them and pushing them in the right direction.

Specialized Training Modes

Learn what the specialized training modes are and how and why to implement them to enhance your athlete’s cognitive training experience.


Cognitive Task Measure

Speed

Speed normalizes the data distribution and reduces the effect of outliers (numbers that differ significantly from other observations or data points) in the data.

High Speed

The faster an athlete processes information the higher the speed will be because speed takes outliers into account and is more sensitive than reaction time. An increase in speed is a great sign your programming is on point and periodisation is effective. To further increase the load on the athlete's brain, we suggest applying specialized training modes (specific to their needs) to challenge them further.

Low Speed

If your athlete's speed is decreasing over the program, this indicates they are processing information at a slower rate. This could also indicate they are struggling with the cognitive demands of the task. You may also find that their variation has increased or remains at a high level. If this is the case, we suggest applying the same modes as you would for High Reaction Time.‌  


Cognitive Task Measure

Variation

The coefficient of variation (CV) is a statistical measure of the relative dispersion of data points in a data series around the mean. Variation is used to measure the degree of variation between testing trials in an individual athlete’s repeated measurements. The lower the variation, the more consistent the athlete is and the better their cognitive performance.

High Variation

If your athlete has a high amount of variation in their data, their responses are not consistent and you need to focus on improving your athlete's ability to respond consistently. The following modes & methods are suggested for this,

VPF Mode

VPF mode is designed to optimise response time by giving athletes real-time percentile changes in response speed. VPF mode will display the athlete's percentage of change compared to the previous correct response.

EDM Mode

EDM mode is designed to give athletes live response feedback. If an athlete makes a mistake, they will want to avoid another mistake, and so to make this happen they might adopt a strategy of slowing down after incorrect responses. By applying EDM mode you are giving athletes real-time feedback to optimise cognitive performance after incorrect responses. If you have applied EDM mode via Soma Analytics to a task you will be able to see an athlete's Reaction Time (RT) and EDM Reaction time (EDM) on the tooltip.  If an athlete has adopted a strategy to avoid making future mistakes this will reflect in a slower EDM reaction time.

Increase/Decrease Task Duration

If an athlete's variation is not improving over the cognitive training plan, lower the task duration initially and then increase the task duration over the programme, focusing on having the athlete respond fast and consistently over the task duration.

Low Variation

Low variation in your athlete's data suggests your programming is well structured and they are moving in the right direction with adaptation. To further increase the load on the athlete's brain, we suggest applying specialized training modes (specific to their needs) to challenge them further.


Cognitive Task Measure

RCS


Rate Correct Score (RCS) is the number of correct responses per second. RCS is a key measure that allows you to identify how fast your athlete can respond accurately per second.

High Rate of Correct Score (RCS)

A high RCS indicates your athlete is processing correct responses at a fast rate and that the cognitive programme is well structured and improving as it should, apply specialized training modes to keep your athlete pushing their cognitive limits.

Low Rate of Correct Score (RCS)

If an athlete is displaying a low RCS over the course of the cognitive training plan this indicates they are making more incorrect responses per second. If this is the case you will need to optimize the athlete's error detection. Apply EDM mode and Audiovisual feedback modes to increase awareness to errors.

EDM Mode

EDM mode is designed to give athletes live response feedback. If an athlete makes a mistake, they will want to avoid another mistake, and so to make this happen they might adopt a strategy of slowing down after incorrect responses. By applying EDM mode you are giving athletes real-time feedback to optimize cognitive performance after incorrect responses. If you have applied EDM mode via Soma Analytics to a task you will be able to see an athlete's Reaction Time (RT) and EDM Reaction time (EDM) on the tooltip.  If an athlete has adopted a strategy to avoid making future mistakes this will reflect in a slower EDM reaction time.

Audio/Visual Feedback Modes


Audiovisual feedback modes within Soma NPT are designed to give an athlete live performance feedback and increase or decrease punishment sensitivity or reward sensitivity. Research has shown that athletes who are punishment sensitive and not reward sensitive, are more mentally tough. This means that an athlete who is mentally tough will adapt their behavior to avoid a negative stimulus such as a negative tone or a negative visual stimulus. So by applying a negative audio or visual stimulus, you can increase an athlete's punishment sensitivity and manipulate their behaviour to responses. You can also apply a positive audio or visual stimulus to increase their reward sensitivity, which may be useful for athletes that are really struggling with certain tasks because it gives them some positive reinforcement.


Accuracy

Accuracy is the amount of correct responses to the given stimulus.

High Accuracy

High accuracy (95%+) indicates your athlete is on track. Apply specialized training modes to increase the load on the athlete's brain.

Low Accuracy

If your athlete is struggling with accuracy the first thing to do is assess the cognitive training plan and make sure it is within their capabilities. If you find they are struggling to improve their accuracy make sure that they clearly understand the cognitive tasks and what they should be doing. If they continue to struggle, we suggest manipulating the task duration before applying specialized training modes.

Increase/Decrease Task Duration

We suggest if an athlete's accuracy is not improving over the cognitive training plan, lower the task duration initially and then increase the task duration over the programme, focusing on fast correct responses.

Audio/Visual Feedback Modes


Audiovisual feedback modes within Soma NPT are designed to give an athlete live performance feedback and increase or decrease punishment sensitivity or reward sensitivity. Research has shown that athletes who are punishment sensitive and not reward sensitive, are more mentally tough. This means that an athlete who is mentally tough will adapt their behavior to avoid a negative stimulus such as a negative tone or a negative visual stimulus. So, by applying a negative audio or visual stimulus, you can increase an athlete's punishment sensitivity and manipulate their behavior to responses. You can also apply a positive audio or visual stimulus to increase their reward sensitivity, which may be useful for athletes that are really struggling with certain tasks because it gives them some positive reinforcement.

Learn More

The Principles of Cognitive Progressive Overload.
Progressive Overload is an important principle in cognitive training.
The Principles of Undulating Periodization and Cognitive Training.
Athletes need the ability to cognitively adapt and change depending on the situation. This is where undulating periodization can be useful.

🔗 Learn More