Memory games for adults – the virtual gym of professional basketball players
Not only memory, but also skills needed in professions like flying a military airplane or playing basketball can be trained in games. Scientists have developed exercises for ‘the brain muscles’ to improve hockey and basketball. How do professional basketball players benefit from playing a computer game?
One of the scientists who developed the basketball ‘game-intelligence’ game is Daniel Gopher, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Human Factors Engineering at Technion, Israel’s Institute of Science. His research on how skills transfer from a computer game to flight is seen by many as the first key milestone in the field of brain training.
On Sharp Brains, Gopher explained:
‘Although the context is different, the approach and basic principles are the same of those of developing a trainer for the task of flying a high performance jet airplane. First, one needs to analyze what cognitive skills are involved in playing at top level, and then develop a computer-based cognitive simulation that trains those skills. What most people don’t realize is that top players are not born top players. We are not just talking about instincts. We are talking about skills that can be trained.’
The basketball cognitive training tool practices skills that are required for playing basketball at a top level. Amongst others, these skills are reading plays, positioning, decision making, team work and execution under pressure. Together, they constitute what is usually referred to as game intelligence. On the website of the game, it says: ‘Although the players are merely performing with a keyboard in front of a monitor, if you screen the trainees’ minds during this brain workout, you’ll find that the skills (or the “brain musclues”) that are working are exactly those that are required during a real basketball game.’
Intelligym, the company behind the basketball game, states that the performance of athletes will improve by 30 percent on court. Gopher:
‘Well, first let me say that the company has had to overcome huge cultural barriers to get adoption by a good number of university teams and some NBA players. Coaches see the value of this tool very quickly, but administrators are harder to convince in the beginning. We have seen that the teams and individuals using Intelligym have improved their performance significantly. From the cognitive training, or skill development point of view, we have seen that players improve their positional awareness of themselves, their mates and opponents, and ability to predict what is going on in the game and to make fast and good decisions. Players quickly develop attention allocation strategies that enable them better participate in the game, and also improve their spatial orientation.’