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August 10, 2006
Goal! Neurofeedback Scores a Victory
From Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2006:
"Members of Italy's World Cup-winning soccer team have done it. A starting quarterback in the NFL has tried it out. And so has Jordan Kreuter, an 18-year-old golfer in North Carolina.
The thing they have in common: They've all turned to neurofeedback, a technique that promises to help athletes reprogram their brains so they can reach a zone of relaxed concentration during clutch situations.
Long used to treat medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy and dementia, it is beginning to emerge as a tool for pro and amateur athletes alike -- with neurofeedback machines even starting to show up at some local public golf courses. Several members of Italy's World Cup-winning team, including Andrea Pirlo, second from lower left, did extensive neurofeedback in the runup to the tournament.
This technique is bringing some science to the mental side of athletics, a field also known as sports psychology, which has often been derided by many players and trainers as hokum. In neurofeedback, athletes strap on electrodes that measure brainwaves. They then try to learn how to control spikes in those brainwaves, which may signify distractions going on inside their heads, such as obsessing about a past performance. Critics say it's one thing to be able to manipulate a bunch of lines moving across a screen, but it's another to remain perfectly calm as a fastball zooms toward you at 100 miles per hour or network cameras hover over your par putt."
Over the past year, nearly a half dozen new neurofeedback companies have emerged from the innovation wood work to introduce themselves to NeuroInsights. It's been interesting to hear about their strategies, and has solidified my thought that this is a space to watch, especially when the financiers figure out how to leverage the neurotechnology to trade more effectively.
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