When creating a cognitive training plan it can be difficult to find which cognitive tasks create the most cognitive load for your athletes. Making sure the cognitive workload is sufficient is an important aspect of program design and should not be overlooked. We need to ensure that we challenge our athletes with cognitive tasks that deplete their cognitive resources, such as attentional resources, in order to create adaptations. The Detection Response Task (DRT) is a method used to objectively measure the cognitive workload of a task. The DRT is used as a part of the cognitive task set and performed at the same time as the task. The higher the DRT Reaction Time (RT), the higher the assumed cognitive workload resulting from the cognitive task. Measurements from DRT are sensitive to changes in the cognitive load, establishing the efficacy of DRT for cognitive tasks.
How does DRT mode work?
DRT mode presents a probe stimulus (i.e., secondary task demand) while the athlete is performing the primary task. The athlete is required to respond to this probe stimulus while concurrently responding to stimuli from the primary cognitive task. Their ability to respond to this secondary stimulus allows you to objectively quantify the attentional workload imposed by the primary task.
Soma Analytics DRT Insights
If you have applied DRT mode to a task you will be able to see an athlete's Reaction Time (RT) and DRT Reaction time (DRT) on the Soma Analytics tooltip. If more attentional resources are being consumed by the primary cognitive task the DRT Reaction Time will be slower than the primary cognitive task reaction time.
If fewer attentional resources are being consumed by the primary cognitive task the DRT Reaction Time will be faster than the primary cognitive task reaction time.
DRT is a great tool to get deeper insights into how your athletes are adapting to specific cognitive tasks. These insights can be used to adjust your athlete’s cognitive training program. While DRT mode is not a magic bullet to success it provides the empirical basis to help guide your training plans and programs.