How To Vary Cognitive Load With Specialized Training Modes.

Specialized training modes allow you to create dynamic cognitive training plans that constantly push your athletes to avoid plateaus in their training regime.

How To Vary Cognitive Load With Specialized Training Modes.

Soma Analytics allows teams, clubs, and coaches to apply specialized training modes on top of traditional cognitive tasks within Soma NPT. These specialized training modes allow you to create dynamic cognitive training plans that constantly push your athletes to avoid plateaus in their training regime.

Cognitive demands need to be continually incrementally increased or few gains are seen. (Bergman Nutley et al. 2011, Holmes et al. 2009, Klingberg et al. 2005)

Audiovisual Feedback Modes

Audiovisual feedback modes allow a coach to give performance feedback to an athlete and manipulate their behavior to optimize performance.

What are feedback modes designed to do?

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.

Audiovisual modes

  • Audio - +
  • Visual - +
  • Audio -
  • Audio +
  • Visual -
  • Visual +

Learn More

The effects of Punishment and Reward Sensitivities on Mental Toughness and Performance in Swimming

The Benefit of Punishment Sensitivity On Motor Performance Under Pressure

A Neuropsychological Model of Mentally Tough Behavior


Error Detection Mode

Error detection mode allows coaches to assess an athlete's behavior to incorrect responses.

What is 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.

When to use Error Detection mode

When you want to optimize cognitive performance after incorrect responses.

How does it work?

When an athlete makes an error they go more slowly on the next trial but when athletes are repeatedly given performance feedback in their peripheral vision they are implicitly increasing their error detection without awareness and can still focus on the cognitive task. This error processing feedback is critical for effective behavior change for decision-making in sports performance.

What does EDM on the tooltip mean?

If you have applied EDM mode 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. Initially, you will see a large gap between the Cognitive Tasks RT and EDM RT but as the athletes, implicit detection abilities improve this gap should reduce and you will find the EDM Reaction time will be faster than the cognitive tasks average reaction time.

What benefits does EDM mode have for my athletes?

Optimizing error performance.

What does the research say about Error Detection?

The ability to detect an error in one’s own performance and then to improve ongoing performance based on this error processing is critical for effective behavior. In our event-related fMRI experiment, we show that explicit awareness of a response inhibition commission error and subsequent post-error behavior were associated with bilateral prefrontal and parietal brain activation. Activity in the anterior cingulate region, typically associated with error detection, was equivalent for both errors subjects were aware of and those they were not aware of making. While anterior cingulate activation has repeatedly been associated with error-related processing, these results suggest that, in isolation, it is not sufficient for conscious awareness of errors or post-error adaptation of response strategies. Instead, it appears, irrespective of awareness, to detect information about stimuli/ responses that require interpretation in other brain regions for strategic implementation of post-error adjustments of behavior.

Post-error reaction times indicated two distinct patterns of behaviour, with significantly faster RT, or speeding-up, following an Aware error (pre-error trial RT minus post-error trial RT = 118 ms, t12 = 3.54, P < 0.01) and slowing down after Unaware errors (42 ms, t12 = 2.62, P < 0.05).

To Summarise

Reaction Time was 118 ms faster after an error if the subject was aware of the error.

Reaction Time was 42 ms slower if the subject was not aware of the error.

Error feedback may enhance implicit detection.

Where can I learn more about Error Detection?

Neural mechanisms involved in error processing: A comparison of errors made with and without awareness.


Consequence Mode

Consequence mode is designed to increase punishment sensitivity and train mental toughness by applying a time penalty for every incorrect response. Just like in professional sport any mistake can be costly. Consequence mode pushes athletes to focus.

What is Consequence (CSQ) mode?

Consequence mode is designed to increase punishment sensitivity by extending the task duration by 15s every time the athlete makes an error.

When to use Consequence mode

When you want to focus on increasing mental toughness.

What does it mean when the timing bar goes red?

This means the athlete has made an error and the task time has been extended by 15s.

What happens if they make another mistake when the bar is red?

The red bar will extend by another 15s.

Can I see how many mistakes my athlete makes during a task and how many CSQ penalties were applied?

Yes, Soma Analytics will display how many 15s CSQs were given for the task.


Detection Response Task Mode

Detection response task mode allows coaches to get insights into an athlete's attentional capacity for specific cognitive tasks.

What does DRT stand for?

Detection Response Task

What is DRT mode?

DRT mode applies a probe stimulus to the task that the user must respond to. The Detection Response Task mode evaluates the performance of a secondary task to observe the attentional effects of cognitive load.

When to use Detection Response mode

When you want to assess the attentional effects of cognitive load.

What is the purpose of DRT mode?

The Detection Response Task is a method for assessing the attentional effects of cognitive load.

  • The more attentional resources that are being consumed by the cognitive task will equal a slower DRT Reaction Time (RT)
  • The less attentional resources that are being consumed by the cognitive task will equal a faster DRT Reaction Time (RT)

How does DRT mode work?

During the cognitive task, a red dot will appear in the top right corner of the screen (DRT) and the user must respond by tapping either the left or right button.

When you are analyzing the user's data you can compare the difference between their Reaction Time and DRT Reaction Time. The larger the gap between the task Reaction Time and DRT Reaction Time will indicate that more attentional resources were being consumed.

Where can I learn more about DRT?

Learn more


Time To Exhaustion Mode

Time to exhaustion mode allows coaches to push athletes to maintain high levels of attention. The athlete only has a 20% allowance from the test phase which means the athlete must make all responses within 20% of their average reaction time otherwise the cognitive task is terminated. TTE mode does not take accuracy into account only response speed so this doubles as an assessment of speed-accuracy trade-off.  Over the course of the mesocycle, you will be able to monitor an athlete's speed-accuracy improving.

What is TTE mode?

TTE mode is a cognitive time to exhaustion mode designed to push your athletes to maintain high levels of attention.

Once your athlete enters a TTE mode task, they will perform a 3-minute test.

Soma will take the fastest average reaction time from either minute 1,2 or 3

This is the athlete's target reaction time for every response. Soma will also tell the athlete their threshold, which is the target reaction time + 20%.

For example,

If an athlete's target reaction time is 400ms, this means every response must be faster than 400ms and if they exceed the 20% threshold (480ms) the task will terminate.  This makes TTE mode a pressure cooker for attention as they have already invested 3 minutes before they even begin the task.

In the below image you can see the athlete lasted 3 minutes and 33 seconds before exceeding their threshold and the task terminating.

When to use Time to Exhaustion mode

When you want to create a high-pressure cognitive training stimulus.


Visual Percentile Feedback Mode

VPF mode allows coaches to give athletes live percentile response feedback.

Coaches can take advantage of this live feedback mode and give their athletes goals to achieve every session.

For example,

A coach may instruct an athlete to aim for - + 8% on all responses, this sets sessional goals for the athlete to always go to their limit.

What does VPF stand for?

Visual Percentile Feedback Mode

What is VPF mode?

VPF mode is designed to optimize 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.

Example

  • 350ms correct
  • 380ms correct +8.5%
  • 280ms incorrect +8.5%
  • 450ms correct +18.4%
  • 500ms correct +11.1%
  • 320ms correct -36%
  • 350ms correct +9.3%
  • 400ms correct +14.2%

When to use Visual Percentile Feedback mode

Apply Visual Percentile Feedback mode to give your athletes real-time feedback for correct responses relative to previous correct responses. This specific mode should increase your athlete's focus to improve the consistency of their responses and will not impact their physical training session that day. The athlete needs to aim to respond within plus/minus 10% of the previous correct response. By giving athletes live relative performance feedback on every correct response, they will also learn how variable their reaction time can be.

When you first start applying this mode, we suggest starting with lower-intensity tasks so the athlete has time to reset themselves for the next stimulus.


Adaptive Mode

Adaptive Mode allows coaches to let Soma NPT adjust the task difficulty based on the athletes' cognitive performance, this means the athlete will be constantly pushed to the edge of their current capabilities. The better the athlete performs the faster the cognitive task becomes.  

What does ADM stand for?

Adaptive Mode

What is 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.

When to use Adaptive mode

When you want the task to closely track and maintain the athlete’s current cognitive state.


Heart Rate Zone Mode

Heart Rate Zone mode allows coaches to set a fixed HR zone that athletes must maintain while completing their cognitive training. This allows coaches to control the physical load they are applying to an athlete's cognitive training.

What does HRZ stand for?

Heart Rate Zone Mode

What is HRZ mode?

HRZ mode is designed so the athlete must maintain a certain Heart Rate Zone during their cognitive training.

When to use Heart Rate Zone mode

When you want an athlete to maintain a certain physical workload during their cognitive training.

How does Soma Calculate the Max HR?

The user will enter their age and Soma NPT will calculate the Max HR.

How is Max HR calculated?

220 - Age

What are Heart Rate Zones?

We all have a personal resting heart rate, ‘a minimum heart rate’, and a maximum heart rate. And between these values are different HR zones that correspond to training intensity and training benefit.

There are different ways to identify your heart rate zones calculation. One simple way is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

What are the 5 Heart Rate Zones?

There are five different heart rate zones (1–5)

  • HRZ1 50-60%
  • HRZ2 60-70%
  • HRZ3 70-80%
  • HRZ4 80-90%
  • HRZ5 90-100%

How does the user perform HRZ Mode?

The user must maintain the set Heart Rate Zone (HRZ) the coach has set.


Cardiovascular Exertion Mode

Cardiovascular exertion mode allows the coach to push athletes to physically exert themselves to select the answer to the cognitive task. This means the athlete will need to be strategic with how they increase their HR. They can either choose to go hard and fast and then try to recover as quickly as possible or, slowly grind to each the target HR. This interactive mode focuses on interoceptive awareness.

What does CEM stand for?

Cardiovascular Exertion Mode

What is CEM mode?

CEM mode is a performance-related biofeedback mode where the athlete needs to reach a certain Heart Rate (HR) to select the answer for the cognitive task.

How does CEM mode work?

When the stimulus is presented Soma NPT will take the current live Heart Rate (HR) and add the target HR for left and right responses.

When to use Cardiovascular Exertion mode

When you want to focus on interoception awareness.

What are the Heart Rate (HR) ranges to select a response?

Duration 3,5,10m

  • Left button responses = +2-5%
  • Right button responses = +6-10%

Duration 20,30m

  • Left button responses = +2%
  • Right button responses = +5%

How long does the athlete need to maintain the Heart Rate (HR) Zone?

3 seconds

What does the athlete need to do when CEM mode has been applied to a task?

The athlete needs to physically exert themselves to increase their Heart Rate (HR) to respond to the task.

Can I hide the live heart rate when doing a task?

Yes, tap the drill name to hide the live BPM to perceive your heart rate without biofeedback.

How do I recover if I am finding it too hard to hit the target HR?

Tap the R button on the top right for a 3-minute rest.


Adaptive Heart Rate Zone Mode

Adaptive Heart Rate Zone Mode allows coaches to push the athlete through multiple heart rate zones while they are performing their cognitive training.  This replicates the physical and cognitive demands of real-world sport where the athlete is constantly changing their physical output while making decisions.

What does AHR stand for?

Adaptive Heart Rate Zone Mode

What is AHR mode?

Adaptive Heart Rate Zone Mode is designed to give athletes heart rate zone training. The adaptive aspect of this mode allows an athlete to go through multiple heart rate zones while maintaining cognitive stress on their brain. If an athlete goes outside the target heart rate zone the task will be paused for 10 seconds to allow them to get back into the target Heart Rate Zone (HRZ).

When to use Adaptive Heart Rate Zone mode

When you want to increase physical workload during an athlete's cognitive training.

How does Soma Calculate the Max HR?

The user will enter their age and Soma NPT will calculate the Max HR.

How is Max HR calculated?

220 - Age

What are Heart Rate Zones?

We all have a personal resting heart rate, ‘a minimum heart rate’, and a maximum heart rate. And between these values are different HR zones that correspond to training intensity and training benefit.

There are different ways to identify your heart rate zones calculation. One simple way is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

What are the 5 Heart Rate Zones?

There are five different heart rate zones (1–5)

  • HRZ1 50-60%
  • HRZ2 60-70%
  • HRZ3 70-80%
  • HRZ4 80-90%
  • HRZ5 90-100%

How does the user perform AHR Mode?

The user must constantly adjust to the given Heart Rate Zone (HRZ) over the duration of the task.


Adaptive Heart Rate Variability Mode

Adaptive Heart Rate Variability Mode allows Soma NPT to adapt the cognitive stress based on the athletes' physiological stress. The higher the athlete's HRV the harder the task becomes and the lower the HRV the easier the task becomes. Every 15s Soma will adjust task difficulty based on the athlete's HRV.

What does AHV stand for?

Adaptive Heart Rate Variability Mode

What is AHV mode?

Heart Rate Variability Mode is designed to automatically increase or decrease task difficulty based on the athlete's live HRV. Adaptive Heart Rate Variability Mode tracks variations in HRV every 15s and adjusts task difficulty in order to titrate the cognitive stress placed on the athlete’s brain.

When to use AHV mode?

When you want the task to closely track and maintain the athlete's physiological and cognitive state.


Task Switching Mode

Task Switching Mode allows coaches to push athletes with a secondary high cognitive load task and assess the effects of the load placed on the athlete's brain.

What is TSM mode?

TSM mode is designed to give the athlete a secondary high cognitive load task to respond to. Task switching mode trains an athlete to process different stimuli.

When to use Task Switching Mode

When you want to assess the attentional effects of high cognitive load and increase the athlete's ability to rapidly and efficiently adapt to different stimuli.

What does TSM on the tooltip mean?

If you have applied TSM mode to a task you will be able to see an athlete's Reaction Time (RT) and TSM Reaction time (TSM) on the tooltip. The larger the gap between the task Reaction Time and TSM Reaction Time will indicate that more attentional resources were being consumed.

What benefits does TSM mode have for my athletes?

The ability to switch tasks is thought to require extensive high-level cognitive processing, ranging from instantiating abstract representations to preparing task-specific processes and monitoring response selection and execution. Applying TSM mode will improve an athlete's ability to switch attentional focus rapidly and efficiently and handle higher levels of cognitive stress.

How does the user perform TSM Mode?

The user must perform the primary task and for the secondary task, the user must.

  • Tap the left button for white numbers 0-5 and red odd numbers when they appear in the top right corner.
  • Tap the right button for white numbers 6-10 and red even numbers when they appear in the top right corner.

Deviating Pacing Mode

Deviating Pacing Mode allows coaches to push athletes to maintain high levels of cognitive processing with minimal deviations in performance.

What does DPM stand for?

Deviating Pacing Mode

What is DPM mode?

DPM mode is designed to track variations in performance and gives visual feedback when performance deteriorates.

When to use Adaptive DPM mode

When you want your athlete to maintain high levels of cognitive processing with minimal deviations in performance.


Physical Consequence Mode (PCM)

Physical Consequence Mode is designed to increase punishment sensitivity by getting the athlete to physically exert themselves every time they make an error.

What is Physical Consequence Mode (PCM) mode?

Physical Consequence Mode is designed to increase punishment sensitivity by getting the athlete to physically exert themselves from heart rate zone 2 to heart rate zone 4 every time they make an error.

When to use Physical Consequence Mode

When you want to focus on increasing mental toughness.

What happens when the athlete makes multiple mistakes?

Every mistake will increase the punishment duration by 5 seconds to a maximum duration of 20 seconds.


Time Pressure Mode (TPM)

Time Pressure Mode is designed to create additional time pressure.

What is Time Pressure Mode (TPM)?

Time Pressure Mode is designed to create additional time pressure by requiring athletes to respond before the pink bar runs out.

How does Time Pressure Mode Work?

TPM mode will track an athlete's response speed performance and create time pressure based on response times.

When to use Time Pressure Mode.

When you want to increase decision making speed under time pressure constraints.

What happens when the athlete makes a mistake?

For every slow response, the athlete will receive audio feedback.


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Soma | Mobile Cognitive Performance
Soma Technologies is a mobile cognitive performance training platform utilised by professional athletes, military and universities around the world.