Athletes Develop ‘Super Vision’ Due to Brain Training Exercises
Perfect vision is considered to be 20/20; however, baseball players who undergo brain training exercises can surpass 20/20 vision. Baseball players tend to have excellent vision to begin with and, with the help of vision training, their vision sharpens to about 20/7.5. In other words, they can see something 20 feet away as opposed to others who can only make out a distance of 7.5 feet.
Vision Training Study
Aaron Seitz, who runs the Brain Games Center for Mental Fitness and Wellbeing at the University of California, Riverside, and his colleague Jenni Deveau, director of research at the Brain Game Center, conducted a study with 17 UC Riverside Highlanders baseball players. This study consisted of daily 25-minute sessions over the course of a month.
For the training, the players had to distinguish the shape of a Gabor patch, a circle that is made out of a grating with light and dark colors. These patches have been shown to stimulate the brain cells responsible for vision perception. Many scientists believe that the brain processes visual stimuli at a basic level by detecting and interpreting contrast levels between adjacent pixels. The goal of this exercise was to hone in on that specific function of the brain.
As the players’ ability to distinguish the contrast improved, the contrast of the grating became dimmer, making the task harder. After the study, the players’ eyesight had improved by about 30 percent, according to a visual acuity test, and many reported that their subjective vision also improved.
Results from the Study
The vision acuity test wasn’t the only indicator of vision improvement. The stats from the games following the study signified that the players’ newly improved vision also positively impacted their play. The Highlanders won an average of 4.7 more games in their 54-game season. The players who participated in the study experienced a significant increase in performance compared to the previous year, and they performed better than their teammates who didn’t participate in the study.
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