Behind The Best Podcast

Hosted ByDr. Jay Cavanaugh

The Behind The Best Podcast is a behind-the-scenes look at the people, mindset, and secrets behind the best athletes in the world.

Interview with Neuroscientist Tom Nugent of Elite Performance Solutions

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Podcast Transcript

Tom, I’m a little biased cuz I’m a mental performance coach, but how much of sports do you feel is mental? So, it’s a fantastic question and I think really sits at the crux of a lot of what I’ve been trying to do in my career. Uh, it’s, it’s really important, right? I, I think a lot of people forget that the brain is kind of the center of everything, right?

When you think of that Venn diagram of what makes an athlete successful, it’s the physical, it’s nutrition, it’s, you know, performance and everything else. But what sits at the middle of that is, is the brain, right? And, uh, I, I always love when I talk to new teams or new athletes, uh, as potential clients.

And the first thing I ask them is, you know, how important is the mental cognitive side, uh, of your sport? And, and the answer is always, oh, it’s 75%, it’s 90%, it’s, it’s a hundred percent of what I do, right? Uh, but then when I talk to ’em and I ask them the next question of, well, how much time do you dedicate to it?

Or How much of your budget, uh, in your performance side is dedicated to this? It gets real quiet, real fast, right? Uh, the crickets are the ones that are paying for it. And so there, there’s a, there’s a huge recognition of the need, uh, for, for the cognitive side, the mental side of things, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet in everybody, uh, applying it and recognizing that this is the way to go.

Oh, for sure. We’re with Tom Nugent. He is the co-founder in managing partner of Elite Performance Solutions. I like the word elite. We like to, we like to go for the best of the best, um, an employee, an empl you’re employed, and an implied neuroscience research organization that translates cutting edge neuroscience discoveries into tools and programs to unlock your highest potential.

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of E P s, Tom works directly with client populations bridging his scientific and practical application experience to eliminate the gap between the academic realm and real world, real world use cases. That’s a lot harder to say than you think, and I was also impressed by the fact that Tom has over 20 years of experience in neuroscience research and neuroscience program management working with elite organizations ranging from professional sports teams, special operation communities in the US, military and abroad, as well as eSports athletes and teams.

Wow, that’s impressive . I love it. Uh, Tom, I wanna follow up with where we kick things off. Um, what the, follow me through the next part of the conversation when you start to introduce mental performance. , how do you tend to tie it into the neuroscience? Because classically when we talk about, um, the mental game, you know, we go to classically to the sports psychologist, more like talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy.

Um, what’s the way that you like to best bring the conversation into neuroscience? How do you make that transition? Yeah, and it’s a, it’s a great question, right? Because I think for folks who are a little bit new or, or naive to what neuroscience means, it often gets, uh, misplaced that we’re, we’re one and the same, right?

Um, , I absolutely believe in the power and the strength of, you know, using psychology and kind of mental health coaching to get people more prepared for the stressors and, and the extreme pressure that that happens, uh, especially in, in the, the athletic domain, right? I mean, you have millions of, of folks watching you second by second and then replaying it on sports center, uh, for hours at a time, right?

And so, uh, I, I really try to make a point of getting folks to understand that, that the, the side, the neuroscience side of things isn’t looking to replace, right? We’re working in tandem, uh, with the psychological side and the mental health side. Um, but from where I sit, the neuroscience side is, is really looking at kind of the, the neurocognitive, the, the, the biophysiological, the neurophysiological components that go into performance, right?

Um, so, so instead of looking more at things like. , uh, anxiety and pressure in situations. We’re, we’re looking really more at things like neuroplasticity, right? This idea that, uh, your, your brain can actually change over time. Um, One of, one of the big things that I always talk about when I first speak to somebody about this is that, you know, we, we, we had this idea, and it really wasn’t that long ago, uh, that, uh, we were under this belief that the brain that you were born with is the brain that you’re essentially stuck with throughout life.

Right? Uh, and so you’re kind of like, all right, well, this is what I got. Right? And, and don’t think anything more from that. But, uh, really this concept of neurogenesis and, and neuroplasticity really changes the game, uh, when you talk about it. That our brain isn’t a closed off fixed box that can’t be touched.

Um, you know, I, I, my, my career in this really started, and this is a quick shout out to, uh, one of my professors in college, uh, Elizabeth Goul, she, she really pushed the field with this idea of adult neuroplasticity, right? Um, it started in mice with enriched environments, uh, and, and received a lot of pushback initially that, that.

Other folks in the community didn’t really believe it, but as, as the data had continued to come out, as neuroscience as a field has continued to grow, uh, in advancements, you know, whether it’s from sensor technology or even, uh, the processing power of computers with machine learning, uh, and analysis, it’s, it’s now widely accepted, which is great.

Right? Um, you, you don’t have to justify it anymore. You can really just talk about, uh, how it works and the benefits of it. But, you know, really we can radically improve connectivity between different areas of your brain to strengthen and create more efficient pathways, right? And this naturally leads to greater performance.

Uh, it staves off cognitive decline that we see with aging, and it can even be used to help with the recovery, uh, from concussive or T B I events, right? So that’s to me, like where, where the heart of the neuroscience or neuro neurotech lies in this space, right? Is really kind of looking at, you know, kind of the, the wiring, uh, more than than how the wiring, uh, impacts things, right?

Oh, I love it. And you know, I wasn’t aware about the concussion piece of it all, so it can actually, so of course, neurogenesis, um, is related to recovery. So you’re, you’re saying that it can actually, neurofeedback and neurogenesis in general can be elevated or expedited so that the reco, the recovery time for a concussion can be cut down by maybe a certain amount of time, maybe 10% or a couple weeks?

Or do we not have the data yet to support how quickly we can increase the recovery time from a concussion? Well, first I’m gonna tell you, I’m a fan that you, you asked if we had enough data to be able to support that. Um, and we’re not drawing quick conclusions, which I love. So thank you for that. Um, what I will say is that, you know, historically the idea of someone who had a concussive event, Uh, it’s been sit in a dark room, sunglasses, not a lot of stimulation, right.

Just recover. And the, the research is really starting to change in that. And, and I’d say within the last three to five years, a lot of, uh, academic research articles are coming out that are saying we should be kind of doing the opposite. When you think of an, and you’ll hear me use this analogy kind of throughout our talk.

When you injure something from a physical standpoint, let’s say that you, um, you know, you blow a ligament in your knee. You go and have rehab, but they don’t have you doing arm curls to, to recover your knee, right? They, they target the muscles that are ancillary to the knee to help strengthen that up, to give those ligaments an opportunity to, to recover and heal properly.

It’s the same thing from a neuroscience perspective. Um, you know, when you think about what a, what a concussion is, your brain kind of sits like a, a plate of jello inside your skull, right? And so that concussive event kind of shakes that jello and you get a shearing effect, right? So, so that that jello mold moves enough where you’re gonna have connections break and fray at certain points based off of where the impact was.

And so those certain points are tied to specific functions and capability. And so just like going to rehab for that knee, we want to be able to target the rehab to the areas that have been impacted from that concussive event. And there’s been data that’s been presented, uh, that I, I’m actually a strong proponent of that says that within the first 24 hours of a concussive event, being able to identify which cortical networks have been, um, attacked in a sense, uh, by, by this concussive event, you need to actually flex those, those cognitive muscles to be able to essentially signal for recovery and repair for those torn connections.

And so there’s, there’s almost a, a critical window now that folks are starting to look into that says, Hey, if you had a concussive event, let’s push and work on that, right? Whether it’s visual processing or decision making, right? Um, cognitive vital signs, and I’m sure we’ll talk about more. Let’s really work on stressing those to try to help elicit and stimulate that recovery to get them on a path back to where they should be.

Yeah. And interestingly enough, I, I’m gonna give you a, a personal anecdote that supports. Uh, your statements, un unequivocally, my left foot has some nerve damage and if I created the same injury, let’s say there was a cut on my right foot, the same depth, same length, same location on the left, the time period between healing, I would say, and I’ve had this for a while, this is gonna be a pretty good guess about four times the difference, possibly more, not less, uh, for the recovery.

So I can have a scratch on my left foot where the nerve damage is and it takes forever to heal. And so I think that to me, the lack of innovation or active, actively firing neuro. Would support what you just said. I mean, it’s unequivocal, right? Or am or is there not? Can we not make a comparison from these two instances?

Well, I, I think on a, on a, on a larger level, absolutely. Right. I mean, you know, whether you’re talking about blood flow, right? I saw, you know, you want to share left leg injuries. I tore my Achilles, uh, years ago. Right? Which is well known as one of the, the hardest recoveries because of the lack of blood flow.

Right? And, and when you think about it from, from a broader context, it’s, it’s the same idea, right? It’s, it’s being able to pull the, the resources necessary for that recovery to the region that needs the recovery itself, right? Which is why you don’t do arm curls for, for knee rehab. And, and you know, when you think of a lot.

traditional, um, remediation for concussive events, it’s, it’s tends to be globalized, right? You’re just working on kind of large scale, uh, brain recovery training. And, and my point, uh, with, with the research that’s coming out is that if you can start to target that a little bit more precisely, it gives you an opportunity to really fundamentally drive down and recover the, the areas that may need the most help.

Right? And, and what this really boils down to is having a good baseline ahead of time. Um, it’s one of the things that I really preach, uh, with athletes and with operators, folks that are at a little bit more higher. , uh, in this space is that, you know, let’s, let’s see how your brain works when it’s healthy and everything’s fine, right?

Because then we can identify if you have been in a concussive event, what areas have been impacted, right? And then from there, we work with medical staff. We work with, uh, training crews to basically build a, uh, a bespoke recovery program to help get them back to where they need to be. And then, you know, there’s a little bit of peace of mind too, is that when you can go back and retest when you think you’re ready, uh, you can actually see how your scores measure up against your initial baseline, right?

Um, one of the biggest things that I’ve seen, um, from a sports perspective is the number of lower limb injuries that occur in folks, uh, who had recently suffered a concussive event, uh, is astronomically high. I think it’s close to 80%, uh, or above. Uh, and, and when you, when you boil it down and really start to think about it, , if you’re not as recovered as you should be and you’re in a high impact sport, let’s take American football for example.

Right? You know, everybody’s running at you full speed and trying to knock you down, right? And so, you know, tho those individuals who have had a concussion and they’re not right where they should be cognitively are gonna have a, uh, slower reaction time to be able to protect themselves from that contact, right?

And that puts their lower limbs and extremities into potentially, uh, bed angles, right? And, and then leads to further injury from a physical perspective. So, so there’s a lot of tieback, uh, not just from the, the cognitive and mental health side, but also from physical performance for things like that is that you have to make sure that you are able to react and protect yourself as needed.

Tom, it’s so funny, I’m so fascinated by anything you’re saying. I haven’t even asked you my first question yet, and I was about to, but not quite yet. you asked you, you mentioned one thing that really sparked a question in my mind, which is reaction time. Some of the a, I’m a mental performance coach and some of the athletes I work with, um, you know, with motor sports, that, that reaction time, it, it’s down to the tense, it’s down to the, even less than the tenses.

Do we have technology? And then eventually I wanna bring it into sharing a little bit more about your company or if, or your response relates to one of the devices and the offerings you have. Would love to hear about it. Tell me a little bit more about reaction time. Like how much power in control, I mean, I know that neurogenesis exists and I know that there are some people that have great reaction times and those who don’t.

Maybe if you can even just explain like, what’s the difference between someone, uh, from a neuroscience standpoint that doesn’t have the best reaction time and someone that does, and what tools do we have to manipulate that difference? Yeah. And, and reaction time is always the first thing that we get asked for, right?

everybody wants to be a little bit faster. Um, so let me unpack that for a second. I, so here’s a, here’s a great example, uh, from a neuroscience perspective. Um, if you can, uh, and if, if you’re, you’re gonna be seen on the podcast, this would be great for your viewers. Uh, with one hand, go ahead and touch the tip of your nose, and with the other hand touch like some lower part, like below your knee, right.

Um, and, and touch at the same time, right? Just kind of tap right now from your perspective. You’re feeling them at the same time, right? , but you think about the distance that that signal’s traveling from wherever your hand is that’s going up to your brain, right? That’s, you know, in essence miles of, of cabling going through your body, right?

But your brain’s able to process that at the same time, and that’s how quickly information can be transmitted. Right? So, you know, reaction time to me is, is kind of the most raw form of where neuro performance and, and neurotech comes into play because that’s, that’s really just kind of using the hardware that you have.

Right. And we have seen improvements in it for sure. Uh, we’ve, we’ve done work in the past with groups where we’ve, we’ve used training, uh, kind of specifically tailored towards reaction speed and, and what I would, it’s not just about the speed, it’s also about the, the efficiency of it. Right? You can be really fast and be wrong, , right?

Um, you know, if, if I’m on the, uh, defensive line for football, I have to make sure that I don’t jump until that snap happens, right? And, and otherwise that’s a, that’s a five yard penalty every single time. So it’s not always the best to be the fastest. You have to be the fastest and correct at the same time.

Right. Um, but what we’ve seen is that, uh, pretty quickly, uh, and this is generally true for the neuroplastic changes that we see with cognitive training as a whole, um, a lot of things you can impact within just a few weeks, uh, of training. And, and this isn’t heavy training, right? I, I’m, I’m not telling you that you need to spend eight hours a day, six days a week working on things.

It’s, it’s similar to how you would train your body physically. You know, you do circuit training, you do cardio training. I, I have the equivalent of what I like to call co cognitive cardio, uh, and circuit training for the brain where I’m talking, you know, 15 to 30 minutes a day, a couple days a week. And you can really start to see the impact of that over time.

You need about six to eight weeks for that neuroplastic change to take effect in your brain. Right. For those, for that wiring to become a little bit more efficient, to thicken that pipe of connection between different cortical areas. And so you can see these improvements, uh, but what I would say is that while we can increase or decrease, I guess is the right way to put it, um, overall reaction speed, uh, it’s not just about that, right?

There’s higher levels of kind of cortical, um, vital signs, if you will, that get involved, like recognition and decision making, uh, and being able to like tap into your mental playbook of being able to recognize things, whether it’s through pattern recognition or game film study, right? So it’s, it’s that overall processing speed and the ability to use that information quickly, uh, and being able to execute on it, that I think has the, the biggest, uh, delta for.

I love it. Delta. I’ve had, I haven’t heard that word since, uh, the last time I was in grad school. I love it. . But, and you know what’s funny? There’s a part of me that inner doctoral side of me wants to geek out and go deep, but we’ll, we’ll, we’ll try not to do, go too deep on my end with the questioning, but I’m definitely fascinated.

There was one thing that I noticed on your website on the Elite Performance Solutions website that really fascinated me. And, and you know what was great? I love my sister’s a copywriter. Uh, she’s probably gonna be listening to this. And what was interesting is, I love how you called it the cognitive combine.

I was like, that is, that just resonates. Um, you have this cognitive combine which compares the vital signs of an athlete’s brain to like the benchmark, I assume of, of, of other people, other athletes. Um, tell me about how. Works in how you also have this cog fit application that integrates with it. Give me a little bit more of like, what does this look like?

We’ve got devices now. I’m on your website. I’m looking at devices, I’m looking at, uh, readings and print out, like I’m fascinated in, you know what, maybe I just love shiny, colorful objects, but your website may me just wanna try this stuff out. How does it work? Likes, simplify the data for me and tell me how these two pieces of technology work together.

Absolutely, and I’m glad to hear that the marketing side of you, like the, a name that we came up with, so that makes me feel good. As neuroscientists, we tend to, uh, not always use the, uh, the best verbiage, but, uh, in this case, I’ll, I’ll take full credit for that one. So, . Um, so yeah, so you know, the how does it work question, which is, which is great.

Um, you know, I started to, to kind of go down this rabbit hole of the, the physical analogy, right? Uh, and, and really a, as a, as a whole, I would like, I tend to describe us as we’re personal trainers, but from the neck up, right? So when, when you go to a personal trainer, they typically get a baseline of information on you.

They measure core strength, flexibility, vot, VO two maps, things like that, right? They take that information, uh, they, they create a customized program for, for you from that, right? So we do the same exact thing, but we do it for your brain. We do it from the neck up. So our cognitive combine, uh, which, you know, raised my hand in the air again, for what a great name that is

It’s, it’s a less than 30 minute, um, FDA-approved neurocognitive assessment, uh, that you can take without a neuroscientist being present. To measure these cognitive vital signs, uh, things like attention, memory, processing, speed, decision making, uh, from the comfort of your home, right? So if you, you have a, a phone or a tablet, you load it up and within a half hour you go through a series of tests, you get a, an immediate report generated for you that compares you.

Tens of thousands of other users. So we can benchmark you against our existing database, across different sports, across elite operators in the military, uh, or even specific occupations for our non-athlete listeners here, right? And so we can find your strengths and, and your, your areas of improvement, um, for you specifically, right?

And so from there, then we kind of jump into our, our, what we call our total brain fitness platform. And that comes into play. And so we, we create a, a tailored, customized training experience for you, specifically based off of that baseline information. And this is where the power of neuroplasticity kicks in, uh, that we’re able to directly train those cortical areas and, and help improve you in the, in that space that you need the most, um, beyond the cognitive combine.

We, we have something else called, uh, B and a, which is our brain network analysis. Uh, so the cognitive combine’s great because you can do it any place, anywhere, anytime, right? You don’t need me standing by in the background. Our B and a side, when you wanna talk about shiny objects and putting things on your head, uh, we’re able to put, uh, an EG headset on and run you through a series of different, uh, cognitive tasks and essentially map out the cognitive networks in your brain related to the, the different cognitive vital signs that we find important in your occupation.

Right. Uh, I, I like to make the analogy here that it’s, it’s kind of like a Google Maps for your brain. We’re creating a gps, uh, for your brain, right? Non-invasive tech like eeg, uh, through, if we circle all the way back to our earlier conversation about kind of the advancements in machine learning and and analysis, we can create these non-invasive maps of cortical strength of networks, right?

So when you wanna talk about neuroplastic changes, let’s say I, you know, I, I, I get a b n A on you early. We put you through training. . You know, when, when you’re in a gym, you’re looking at, oh, I’ve added more plates to the rack, or, you know, I’m seeing a larger muscle mass, or better striation, right? You’re getting feedback in real time, right?

It’s a little harder when I talk about training your brain, your forehead’s not getting more veiny, right? Your head’s not growing in size. So, so there’s a little bit of mysticism in, is this really working right? Uh, so, you know, we can go back and use the cognitive combine to test again and see how your, your neurocognitive scores have improved over time compared to your baseline.

But then we can go back with b n a and measure again and actually show you neurophysiologically, how your pathways have changed, right? How that network connectivity. Speaks to different parts of your brain more efficiently, right? And so now I’m providing you physiological evidence without actually having to like dig into your skull to be able to show you that your brain has changed in a couple of weeks, right?

And, and this feeds back into the concussive recovery point, is that we can actually show, you know, okay, you here’s your baseline, here’s your dna, here’s how your networks work. But now you’ve had your concussive event, we do it again. It’s not working quite the same anymore, right? And so now I can actually recognize that and that’s where the targeting comes in, right?

And, and that’s, that’s where the, the remediation comes in. So for us, you’ll, you’ll hear me say this over and over cause I love threes. It’s, it’s about testing, it’s about training, and it’s about tracking, right? Uh, and, and that’s really where the cognitive combine and, and B N A comes into place, is that it allows us to do that testing and have that very robust.

Baseline for each individual to be able to go from there to get you on your, your neuro performance journey. Yeah. And, and so when we’re measuring, so I’m trying to imagine what is being measured. Is it the intensity of the electrical charge? Is it the speed of the electrical charge? Is it the, to me, in my mind, where my mind goes is I imagine that, you know, I, I know that, you know, the nerves that fire together wire together.

So I just, in my mind, I create an image and tell me if this is close to ac, accurate or not, is I just imagine certain circuits being activated that form a stronger union. And there is some degree of change there, whether, like I said, it’s the intensity or the speed. But then I also can imagine that resources are so limited and the body is so amazing in what it does, that if you’re not using something, you do lose it.

Like this pruning. Right. And so I’m wondering, , is there a pruning of things that aren’t being activated happening and then those resources being allocated to a different part of the neuronal pathway? Or am I way off track here? No, no. You’re, you’re spot on. Uh, I will give you your honorary neuroscience badge for the data

Um, you, you know, it’s, the brain is amazingly efficient at what it does, right? It doesn’t want to use any more energy than it has to because it, it’s a, it’s a pretty high, intensely consuming organ in your body. Right? And, and the idea of pruning and, and use it or lose it, right? It’s, it’s essentially this idea that you don’t want to have these kind of ancillary, uh, hangar honors that are drawing energy unnecessarily.

Right? And so when, when you tie this back to the B n A and, and kind of mapping out your brain, right. What you’re, what you’re essentially talking about is, is identifying the, the superhighways, right. Versus the back roads. And so, you know, synaptic pruning and, and, and, uh, neuroplastic training really helps reinforce those highways so that that information can travel as efficiently and as, uh, energetically, uh, less impacting as possible.

Right? So if I can get the information quick and not burn a lot of brain calories in doing so, it’s a good thing. Rather than taking those back ways and, you know, maybe a dead end and everything else, that it’s a little bit slower. We, we help eliminate that, uh, through, through cognitive training. Oh, I love it.

Yeah. And I, I just imagined going from, uh, the 4 0 5 at about 4:00 PM in California to maybe, you know, one of the roots on 95 in, uh, Northern Georgia . But yeah, I love the analogy. I, I love how you simplify things cuz it seems like. . I, I would feel like the biggest obstacle for you in, in sharing, uh, your technology with people is, is just overcoming the confusion.

You know, and, and, and the, and we tend to overthink things, but the way that you explain things, what I love about it is it’s so simple. It’s, it’s basically an efficiency play. Just getting more out of a system. It’s a system that already works great, but it’s just refining it. You know, it’s no different than going to, uh, a manager going into a store whose productivity is low, and maybe you’re increasing the productivity by making small changes in, in little areas that ultimately propel the whole system to a more optimized state.

So I really, uh, love how you explain that. Yeah. And, and to your point, just sorry to, to step on you there. I, I think it’s worth mentioning, it is a, it is a little bit daunting for, for folks who have spent their entire careers only worrying about physical capability, right. Um, I need to be big, I need to be strong, I need to be fast.

Whoa, you want to talk about my brain slow down, right? And, and so it, it’s really important and, and, you know, kudos to you for helping, you know, spread the gospel here, is that, you know, we’re not looking at. intelligence, right? We’re not talking about iq I we’re not looking to read your mind and, and see what you’re thinking, right?

We’re not looking to run back to coaches and, and tell them that your brain isn’t good enough for the next contract. Right? It, it’s really coming down to how can we get you to the best version of you that we can get, right? And, and that really starts at the neck up. At this point, we’re, we’re hitting a bit of a ceiling when we talk about, uh, physical performance, right?

I mean, LeBron spends. Over a million dollars a year just on maintaining his body. Right? Whether it’s the, you know, the cryogenic chambers, um, hyperbaric, right? Everybody’s hot on ice baths and everything else right now. Right? Again, at the end of the day, what sits at the middle of all this, it’s your brain, right?

And so we’re, we’re really trying to, um, dispel the anxiety around it, but then, then also empower folks, uh, to understand that, you know, little changes can go a long way here. Oh, I love it. Yeah. And, and it’s just so fascinating. Oh, I have so many questions, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna stay on track. Focus is something that I find to be.

A very challenging aspect of the athletes I work with. So a lot of the things that I do, uh, go along with beliefs, narratives, identity. And in a moment I want to ask you about the subconscious mind and see if there’s, uh, a way that we can connect what you do to the power of the subconscious mind. But before I ask that, tell me about focus.

Um, for me, focus. Is interesting because sometimes focused for me is just as good as, or it’s, it’s just as important to remove distractions as it is to become more focused. And you know, when we have athletes that say, well, how can I be more focused? A lot of times some of the simple tools we have, you know, are mindfulness, uh, you know, stare at a candle flickering for a minute or two and see if you can do it free of thought.

Maybe watching a passing cloud, classical meditation. Um, is there anything that neuroscience, or even more specifically your technology offers when it comes to either focus, incre and you had mentioned earlier, even attention focus, energy and attention and managing it in a more efficient way where you can actually, the, the athlete can, can notice a difference in performance as a result of it?

Yeah, I, I mean, , this is, uh, this is such a great question cuz uh, now, now I’m nerding out and getting to talk about things that I love. So, so this is great . Um, you know, I think arguably focus is probably one of the most important skills for an athlete, especially in crunch time, right? I mean, so here’s topical for you.

March man is starts tomorrow, right? And so what better example of focus is there than free fruits, right? You think about the basket’s always 10 feet high. It’s always 15 feet away. , but a free throw in the final minute of the game feels way different than it does in the beginning of the game. Right? And so who has the strongest attention to block out the screaming fans, the cheerleaders, the pressure of the moment, and, and sync that free throw to move on to the next round?

Right? So, you know, with, with that right focus is really one of those topics that teams and athletes talk to us about quite a bit. Um, and, and, you know, not on, not ironically, we have a specific product for exactly this, right? Um, with collaboration from our colleagues at Duke University, uh, we’ve developed an app called Elite Focus that uses neurofeedback to help an individual improve their attentional stamina.

uh, at any time of the day doing just about any test that they would normally do. So they essentially wear an EEG headband that basically looks like a sweatband, right? Um, you just put it on within six seconds, it’s on and it’s running. And we can measure a validated signature for focus that will give you notifications for when your attention drops to help you stay on task.

So you could be on your phone doom scrolling social media, and if your attention drops, the screen will actually get darker and won’t brighten back up until you kind of gather yourself and get your attention back to the state that it should be, right. Wow. So there’s an active example. Um, you could be for our, for our, our desk jockeys, right?

You’re sitting at your desk and you have a pile of emails that you need to respond to. You throw the headset on, you start sending your emails out, and then the app could give you a little auditory nudge or just kind of monitor and watching the background. Uh, and let you know how your attention kind of went up and went down, uh, throughout the process.

Right. Um, I’m a huge fan of the idea of using neural feedback. Um, so you, you know, you had mentioned, uh, you know, early in my career, I, I did work within the defense industry. Um, we use neural feedback to help folks gain skills faster, right? So ac actively being involved in things like marksmanship, um, skill acquisition, uh, secondary language acquisition, threat detection, this idea of using neural feedback where again, when we, we roll back to what we were talking about earlier, your brain’s kind of a black box to you.

I can give you the insight through neurotechnology, right? Just putting a headband on using academically validated signatures and measures. To let you know when you’re in a good state or not, right? And so, so now I can start to, this gets back to what I said about kind of cognitive cardio, right? I can actually build a, a, a hit training, you know, high intensity interval training for, for focus, for a intentional stamina, but then also on the flip side, looking at, um, kind of recovery and relaxation, right?

So as important as, as focus is and, and attention is for, for high performance, what I’ve found really quickly is that teams and athletes are in dire need of the other side as well, which is coming back down to, to zero, right? We’re, we’re, we’re creatures of habit and we’re told we have to get amped up, right?

We have to be ready to go steal focus for, for the mission, for, for the game and everything. And then when it’s over, all right, I’ll see you tomorrow, right? Like, there’s no, there’s no get back down to normal, right? And so we rely heavily on, on. Whether it’s caffeine or, or supplements or, you know, you look at every athlete in the locker room, they’re all listening to music, right?

They’re all finding their own personal biohack to get themselves up and ready to go get that attentional stamina, as high as it can be. But then when they go home, they don’t know what to do with themselves. And so that first night of recovery after a major event, this is why I love the NCAA tournament, is cuz there’s, you know, everybody’s in the same situation, right?

You, you come off of a big win. Well, great, well guess what? In a day and a half you gotta do it again, right? And so, so it’s not always about the best team, it’s about teams that can recover really well and hit that accelerator, um, pedal for their, for their focus and attention when they need to. And so we work with both the attentional side with focus, but then also we have a cool down program that works in the inverse.

that helps you kind of meditate and relax and get yourself back down to a lower level, which then leads to better recovery and better sleep and more efficient, you know, absorption of information when you’re going through, um, you know, walkthroughs the next day. Right? And so it, it’s really this, this entire cycle, which I think is great when you mention the subconscious aspect, right?

Is that like our brain’s never really quiet, right? There’s default mode network is when what our brain does when we’re not supposed to be doing anything, right? And it’s not that your brain just shuts off. I mean, it, it’s partial recovery. It’s partial consolidation. Um, but we tend to think about ourselves quite a bit, uh, when we’re thinking about nothing.

And so there’s, there’s beauty and there’s strength in the idea of being able to train how to focus, but then also how to train, how to unfocus as well. And, and so, you know, there’s, there’s the two sides of the coin that I think’s really important that we try to help, uh, folks manage and be able to, uh, to get better at now.

So are, would another way of saying what you just said is this, what cognitive load is? Uh, so it’s part of it. I mean, cognitive load, I, I think in simplest terms is how many balls can you juggle at once? Mm-hmm. , right? Um, right now I, I probably have a pretty high cognitive load because you’re asking me good questions and so I’m making sure that I answer them in a way that folks can understand.

Don’t sound like an idiot. Right. Um, don’t say the wrong thing. Um, so, so there’s a certain level of cognitive load there. , but you know, when, when you think about cognitive load, there’s so much going on, right? I mean, take a Formula One driver, for example, right? To me, I, you know, and this isn’t playing favorites, but I think, you know, they have probably one of the most extremely high cognitive loads in, in the moment, by moment of their sport.

I mean, God, just look at their steering wheel, right? I mean, there’s more buttons on that than there are on my keyboard with screens, with guys chirping in my ear, you know, with, with hairpin turns weather and everything else, right? I mean, you wanna talk about cognitive load? That’s, that’s it right there, right?

Um, but at the same time, a, a gymnast who is on, you know, high bar, oh God, I’m, I’m gonna, I’m gonna show my, my lack of knowledge about, um, gymnastics here, . Um, but you know, like where it’s a singular. Their cognitive load is also tremendously high because they have to make sure that their footwork is completely precise.

Right? Their adrenaline isn’t getting the best of ’em, their technique and everything else, right? So cognitive load can mean different things to different athletes, but it, it really comes down to how you’re able to handle and balance a plethora of incoming information versus what you’re trying to output.

And in this sense, it’s, it’s sport performance, right? Yeah. You know, interesting. Uh, tidbit to add to what you just said is, and it was absolutely humorous to listen to in real Time Live. Is this past, uh, or two weekends ago now, almost two weekends ago, Fernando Alonzo in f1, a legend in in f1. Absolutely.

One is nine, uh, scored his 99th podium. Interesting thing. It may have been the final lap or the, towards the, put it this way, towards the end of the race, he’s secured relatively secure in third place. Obviously fourth place isn’t a mile behind him, but he feels a sense of security in the moment of him about to get a podium that he hasn’t received in a while.

The el, the elevated emotional state of being in an F1 car. You’re exhausted after a long weekend of qualifying 1, 2, 3. Not to mention the practice you had before that. The fans, the autographs, the interviews, what does he do towards the end of his race? And he’s about to get this podium. He asked how his teammates doing on the radio, on the radio.

He asked how his teammates doing, and I forget how they responded, but I just, I was so taken aback by that. I was like, how can you do that? And you start to realize that, you know, he’s not in this, what I call like a fight or flight emotional state. You know, he’s, he’s a, he’s in this sense of common peace that I feel is like flow state, right?

You think about flow state and there’s so much anecdotal evidence of athletes, you know, there was one thing I read by, I think it was Steven Kotler who’s into, uh, flow State and wrote the book, I think Flo and mm-hmm. . I, I recall, uh, a passage where there was a, a professional surfer that when he achieved this great experience of flow state, he could recall in his mind and his memory seeing like pieces of seaweed.

within the wave itself and these odd recollections that most people wouldn’t recall because they’re more into the fight or flight and, and certainly not in flow. So I, I’d love to hear you comment on either a little bit of flow state and then maybe move into, before I forget, cause I’m, so I want to hear both maybe a little bit of flow state in how it interacts with neuroscience and maybe your technology.

And then also after that, I would love to hear about fight, flight, or freeze because I spend a lot of time helping my athletes manage both of these. All right. , there’s like 20 questions in there now. I, now here’s my cognitive load. Um, . Yeah. None of these questions are the ones I wrote down, so No, no. This is, this is great.

Wing it, this is great. And then for the, uh, for the, the post. Post, uh, processing fat correction. I had made up a new event in gymnastics where I crossed, uh, balance beam with uneven bars and said, hi beam. Um, I meant the balance beam. So there we go. For all the gymnasts that I accidentally, uh, offended, uh, please don’t take it personal.

My cognitive load was too high. . Um, so let’s, I mean, where to start with this? So, I mean, when we talk about flow state, right? I mean this in, in many facets is kind of the, the holy grail of, of performance metrics for, for neuro performance, right? It’s, it’s this magical when you, you, when you take your graph of your X m Y access, right?

Of, of performance, uh, and, and your ability to kind of be in a highly efficient, low energy consuming state, right? Um, through a lot of the work that I have done previously. With, with military folks, we found that with skill acquisition and, and kind of expertise, the amount of activity that you see in your brain decreases, right?

So when you think about being a novice or, or even kind of like a journeyman, somewhere in the middle, uh, you’re, you’re recruiting a lot of different parts of your brain to be able to process information and, and perform the way that you need to perform, right? You’re falling back on training, on memory, um, you know, there’s decision making involved where as, when you look at someone who’s been doing it for a long time, these processes become a little bit more automatic, right?

And so, you know, you almost get a sense of a quieter brain, uh, during these tasks because it’s become more efficient, right? We’re only using those networks that need to be used in order to be able to execute the task. And that frees up a lot of, of cognitive load. So, you know, you have some folks, like, I think eSports is a great example of this, right?

Like there is like 8 billion things going on on the screen at one time. You know, in, in like game, you know, mobile games and, and things where you’re having to communicate and plan ahead and worry about what’s right in front of you. And then, you know, refresh times and spawns and everything else. That’s a lot of information.

But when you look at really good eSports athletes, they’re like still talking and hanging out while they’re doing it. Right. And, and their ability to, to multitask and, and essentially be in a flow state is, is extremely impressive. I mean, your, your point with f1, he had all this stuff going on and his altruism bubbled up to the top to, to worry about his teammates, right.

And, and the crew and everything. Because he, he’s had all that experience, he was able to kind of just be in his, his happy spot, in his flow state to be able to perform at a high level, but still had kind of cognitive reserves available to do other things. Right. Your mind can wander a bit, uh, in that regard.

And so, you know, flow state is one of those things where if, if I can have infinite resources and dollars to put into research, I would want to be able to slap a, a, a watch on you or, or a headband or whatever, and be able to immediately tell you when you’re in that flow state how to maintain it and, and use it best for you.

But I think it’s, it’s a little bit different for everybody, right? I mean, so I’ll transition now, like from that idea of flow state to like you’re talking about, like seeing seaweed and everything else, right? I, I’ll mention LeBron again. Um, Sean McVay is another great example of this, right? Where, hey, LeBron, do you remember in the third quarter, uh, when this happened?

And you know, he not only remembers when that happened, but he’ll tell you 10 plays prior to that, right? That. Ad flashed from the low post to the high post. Instead a scream, but it wasn’t there. Right. And he’ll walk all the way through and not just in that one play, it’ll go three or four plays on either side of it.

Right. Sean McFee, I, I, I love watching the interviews of him when they’re in, like, you know, in the third game of the season, six years ago, in the second quarter it was third and 10. What play did you call ? And he’ll sit there for like two seconds and he’ll be like, oh, it was, it was this right there. There are folks who are able to really just tap in.

and, and you know, it’s not just about having like amazing memory, right? It’s, it’s the integration of everything, right? Whether it’s the emotional moments of it, it’s that ability to tap into that kind of cognitive playbook and guide, right? It’s, there’s so many different elements that they all kind of come together.

And for some folks that, that is their flow state, that is their flow moments and they can tap into that at will. And, and you know, I’ll, I’ll tell you, I’ve seen some of the, the most beautiful brains, if you will, uh, Heisman Trophy winner, uh, a few years ago that I had the opportunity to work with, to me is still one of the most amazing brains that I’ve seen.

His ability to, when we talked about like attention and workload, to drive his attention up at the beginning of a task, recognize what he needed to do, and then immediately take his foot off the pedal to go into a cognitive reserve and execute at a high level. gave him immense ability to be able to make decisions quickly because he wasn’t spending so much cognitive e right?

You, you have a cup of cognitive energy in a sense, right? For a given moment. So he wasn’t using all of the cup just to be ready for that task. He was able to get up into it, execute, and then be able to kind of drop back down and use the remainder of what’s in that cup for things that may not go his way.

Right. So when you think about being a quarterback and going through your progressions or your offensive line isn’t holding up as well as you need it to be, right? He, he, he was very cool under pressure and was able to, to get things done because of his ability to, to be able to be efficient in the sense of how he was using his cognitive skills.

Al almost kind of the, where my mind went is like Ram on a computer, like I know I have a tendency to not. Enjoy. I have too many tabs open. You know, I have like one, uh, you know, big long bar with an infinite number of tabs from who knows how long ago, I think. Yeah. I probably, I probably have some of my high school, you know, syllabi on there.

Um, just can’t close it out. But what’s crazy is you start to notice that the computer doesn’t process as fast. I mean, would that be, uh, the same analogy? I mean, yeah. I, I think that that’s a nice way to work back to how we were discussing workload, right? Is that you, you have in a sense a finite at that moment, capability to do so many things at once.

And this, this also feeds into the novice versus expert component, right. An expert will only have two tads open at any given time because that’s all they need to be able to accomplish stuff. Right. Uh, they, they, they learn to be good for forgetters. Right. In a sense that they don’t get hung up. Right. What, what’s, who are some of the best point guards in the nba?

The ones who don’t remember that they missed the last shot? Right. They don’t get hung up on it. Um, there’s great data that looks at endurance runners, um, you know, marathon Ironman, uh, groups like that, that individuals with higher working memory, uh, tend to perform worse because they wind up getting in their own head because they have this, this working memory space where they start to worry about everything, right?

Rather than, than folks who are just kind of put their head down and run through the wall and compete. You know, the, these folks with a higher capacity for working memory have the capability if they choose to, to start to worry about, oh, did I drink enough water? You know, my muscles are starting to cramp, you know, the, the big turns coming up or the hill, right?

They start to kind of use that extra capacity and it, it can be limiting cuz it gets in their way and inadvertently may slow them down or reduce that cognitive cup for something else that they may need further down the line. So it’s an interesting balance. Oh, for sure. So how do, I’m big on, um, feelings.

Feelings and emotions. So you talk about letting going, having that short memory. A lot of times what we’re letting go of is our emotional attachment to a past event or experience. And so it’s letting go of that, that emotional attachment, almost like cutting the cord. Um, and I also believe that even, uh, vibe, you know, I, I’ve got some athletes that have a vibe.

You know, I just, I don’t know, I just feel like, you know, I feel like it’s good weekend. I just feel comfortable. I feel relaxed. You know, my favorite restaurants here, there’s some people that just like the vibe of a stadium they’re performing at, or a city they’re at. I know when I go to Minneapolis, Something about Minneapolis, you know, and, and I know what it is.

I’ve had great experiences there. And of course, the end point of any memory or, or the, is an emotion, right? The, that’s what we kind of tie to things I feel, is the emotional experience attached to an event. Give me a little bit of an idea of where emotions play into neuroscience and maybe even your technology.

I mean, are we, you know, with elite performance solutions, are we tying into, or can we manage emotions? Because emotional intelligence is a huge part of, not even just sports, but we’re talking about leadership. Um, it’s big in leadership, it’s big, it’s sea level executives. Is there anything about feelings that we can talk about?

Let’s talk about feelings. . How do you feel right now? ? I feel great, man. No, this is, this is, this is a fantastic question. Um, It’s, so, again, let me unpack for a second because there’s, there’s a lot to talk about here. So let me start first by the, the point about, you know, memories having an emotional component to it, right?

That’s, that’s true sometimes, right? Me remembering that I had, uh, this, this podcast with you today. There, there wasn’t necessarily an emotional attachment to it. Now there will be, right? Mm-hmm. . Um, but to me that was, you know, that’s just facts right? Straight ahead. That’s information that I needed to be successful for the day.

Um, whereas like your Minneapolis example, right? You had good times there. The food’s good, right? Uh, the, maybe the weather was great cuz you were there before October and they’d get really cold, right? Um, or maybe you like the snow, I don’t know. But you know, when you, when you think about it from a brain perspective, your hippocampus is where your memories are generated and stored, right?

Um, your amygdala is where a, a lot of your emotional. , uh, is the emotional seat of your brain, right? They’re right next to each other. Uh, and so when when you talk about, you know, emotional memories, they tend to be the ones that you remember a little bit more, right? They’re a little bit more charged, right there, there, there could be a a, a specific, you know, heartstrings moment to it, or it could be a, a survival aspect to it when we get into fight or flight, right?

And so my, uh, my early work at, at nih, I actually studied the hippocampus. And so I love that you brought this up, uh, because I think, you know, memories really what everybody thinks of when they think of their brain, right? When you think about getting older and you start to not remember things as well, um, or you notice that you’re tired because you don’t remember things as well, right?

That’s usually kind of people’s, um, their dipstick, uh, for measuring their oil of, of how well they’re performing is based on memory. But it’s so much more than that. But, but to your point, memory and emotion is extremely important. A again, I’ll, I’ll fall back to, you know, the NCAA tournament that’s, that’s starting, right?

And, you know, one bad call will make or break a team, right? Um, how many times do you see players kind of lose their mind and, and they don’t recover? Right? And, and to me this gets into kind of performance under pressure, emotional resilience, uh, which is where I think this is where the intersection comes in really nice between the, the psychological mental health side and, and the neuroscience side as well, right?

Because from the psychological side, they’re, they’re helping you learn to unpack that and be able to let that go and, and talk about that and get into your fields, to your point. Right? And then from the, from the neuroscience side, right? There’s, there’s typically a neurophysiological response. That, uh, comes out of that, right?

If, if you think about your good memories in Minneapolis, you, you may get a dopamine hit, right? Uh, and, and happy, warm, fuzzy feelings. Um, you think about the last time that you played against, uh, your, your division rival, and you get pissed off because, you know, a, a guy pulled a move that didn’t get a penalty called, and then you’re stuck on that and then, you know, they score a touchdown cuz you’re still pissed about something that happened three minutes ago, right?

That’s emotionally charged. You’re, you’re actually eliciting a fight or flight response just thinking about that, right? And that has its own benefits and, and, and detraction from it because yes, your arousal state’s higher cuz you’re, you’re ready to fight, but now you’re also a little bit distracted, right?

So, so you need that emotional resilience to be able to kind of power through that, recognize the impact it can have on you physiologically and just be able to go out and do what you need to do. . Oh, I love it. Yeah. It, it’s, um, it’s interesting, you know, you start to realize how much emotions, you know, play into things.

And I always say, you know, every I, I imagine like a continuum where you’re starting with, where you place your focus energy and attention. And then from there that feeds into some of the thoughts you have and those thoughts you have maybe start to create some narratives and then there’s foundational beliefs that support those narratives.

And then there’s some emotions that are a result of it. And then the either action or lack of action in some cases, like procrastination seems to follow suit. And then of course, I miss that there’s feelings involved in there. Seems like there’s like this continuum that takes place. Um, what I’m really curious about, the habit mind to me.

I am under the belief that 95% of who we are, what we do, our actions, our thoughts, our feelings, our narratives, beliefs are just simply a habit. It’s our habit mind, and our habit Mind is our subconscious. How does that belief of mine, um, play into your world of neuroscience?

So I think this comes, this comes back to, and this is, this is Tom Foz. Um, so, you know, this is not representative of the neuroscience community necessarily. Sure. Well, we’re interviewing Tom, not the neuroscience community. Yeah, no, I know, I know’s. Hear it. I just wanted to put that asterisk. Sure do. Noted.

Yeah. Talk about habits. I mean, you know, let’s, let’s fall back on the simplest answer here. You’re, you’re, you’re heavy in response that you mentioned earlier. Neurons have fire together, wired together, right? And so what are habits? It’s repetitive acts, right? And, and, and this is really at, at the most basic level of neuroplasticity and neuroscience and learning and everything else, right?

Is, is repetition, right? Repetition is the key to learning when it comes down to things. And, and so whether it is, you know, when you’re an infant and you’re, you’re learning how to stand and walk and you’re, you’re training your, your motor cortex to be able to move your toes and move your ankles and everything else to be able to balance and ambulate, or it’s, uh, creating good habits about, you know, not eating sugary foods after 10:00 PM right?

Like, you create these habits through repetition and, and you know, that’s usually provided through structure. Right. And whether that structure starts, uh, at home, at school through performance coaches, right? I mean, you know, there, there is no better example in my mind when we talk about sports than the drinking from a fire hose moment when you go from high school to college to a D one program or from a D one program to the pro pros, right?

Where you get in, you had your habits that were successful, and then all of a sudden you go from being that big fish to a little fish in a whole different size pond. You need to learn some new habits really fast, right? And, and what does that turn into? That turns into being more efficient, getting stronger, right?

Improving those performance metrics that are key for your success. And the best way to do that is repetition. That’s so true. And you know, I think there’s a mental error that we all tend to have myself include. , um, where we think, we believe that if we read something once, learn something once, that it’s now part of who we are.

But that’s just simply not true. I mean, it hasn’t been absorbed yet. You know, I always say in many do that, you know, knowledge is potential power, but you know, it’s, you gotta turn it into action, action’s. The real, the movement, the power, it’s taking that knowledge and actually turning it from possibly, you know, energy into matter, let’s say.

Right. So it’s very, very interesting. Um, yeah, and, and every, every student who’s ever crammed the night before for an exam is like, what are you talking about? ? . I just shoved everything. I slept on the book. I know exactly everything I need to know, . Um, no, but it’s, it’s, it’s a valid point, right? I mean, you know, whether it’s, it’s learning how to do something, um, just absorbing the information.

To me, it’s, it isn’t until you actually have to. Execute on it that, that you really learn, right? Like, I could read a book on something, but then ask me to tell you about it in a way that makes sense. Right? I’m probably gonna stumble on it for quite a while. Right. Um, because I don’t have the practical experience with it.

Right. Um, it’s, it’s a bit orthogonal, but this really likens to, to my belief about where neuroscience is now. We’re finally able to, to leave the lab behind, right? When you, when you look at the studies that were done 10, 15, 20 years ago in sport or, you know, with, with the military, everything was done in a lab, right?

Very sterile, very um, quiet lack of distractors. Um, you’re almost in a fairday occasion in a sense to make sure that you can cleanly get the results to be able to make a, a hypothesis, true or false, right? I’m out on a football field with N F L kickers, wearing 20 channel EEG headsets that I’m, you know, yelling at them, throwing things at them while they’re kicking 45, 48, 55 year yard field goals to see how their brain changes based off of, you know, emotional resilience based off of their focus and attention levels based off of the years of repetition of getting themselves together in the moment to execute right?

And the data’s great. And so we’re able to, to move away from, you know, this, this single trial laboratory repeated over and over and over again, setting to, you know, environmentally challenging, distracting environments to get actual data that’s applicable to real world scenarios. And, and to me that’s, that’s one of the most exciting things about neuro, uh, neuro performance and neuroscience in general, is that we, we can move away from, from the lab environment and really kind of test on the field.

Right. Oh, I love it. Yeah. I mean, the realtime applications are, are powerful. I wanna, I wanna ask about your favorite case study in a moment, but I really want to hear one last geek out question. , when it comes to activation. So one of the things that I do with athletes is I activate, I, I look to, to activate their left and the right brain prior to competition.

We do this thing called activation. Would love to just hear your thoughts on. How, from a performance standpoint for athletes, the left brain and the right brain, uh, can influence performance. Do they need to work together? Do they work separately? Because obviously there’s some of us there more left brain and one, some right?

Or at least that’s what have some believe. Would love to hear your thoughts on the con connectivity and even the relationship between the two, specifically with respect to performance. Yeah. So first I think it’s great, right? Like I am a, I’m a big proponent, like one thing that I don’t think most athletes do, they don’t warm up their eyes right there.

There are tons of great little kind of like, you know, finger in front of your face moving it back and forth to kind of warm up your visual system. Uh, that, that goes a long way, right? There’s, there’s lots of data, uh, that talks about like for football, throwing the ball to the eye dominant side of a wide receiver.

Their ability to catch is significantly higher than their off, off side, right? I mean, typically everybody has a stronger eye, right? Um, one way or the other. And so there’s been some good research out there that has shown, you know, if you’re right, eye dominant, throw the ball to their, to their right side and they’ll have a better chance of catching, right?

Something as simple as that. But you think about like, you know, most sports are generally fast, right? I mean, you know, processing speed has to be through the roof, not just from a visual processing standpoint, but then also kind of those higher level cortical functions like decision making where you have to take all that information and go, so why wouldn’t you warm that up, right?

Just like you warm up your hamstrings and everything else before you compete in an. , you need to do these things, right? Um, you know, f1, we go back to that like drive to survive. You, you occasionally see in the background, you know, them, them catching tennis balls or like the, like the juggling stick that has three or four different colors on it, and they have to catch the right one, right?

You have to warm your brain up. And so the idea of a cognitive warmup to me, I think is essential as, as one of the next steps for being at peak performance. When, when the gun hits, when, when the, you know, the tap happens. What, whatever the start of that event is, you want to be at your best. Like, you know, there’s lots of guys that need touches, right?

They need, they need a quarter of time to be able to kind of get to their peak performance level. Don’t you want to be at that from the beginning and be able to perform all the way through? So, so yeah. I mean, warming up the eyes to me is a big one. Um, we have a. We have a product called Cog Fit, uh, which is kind of a, a mini version of the cognitive combine that just measures, um, reaction speed, uh, procedural reaction, speed, and decision making as kind of a, a quick test to see where you’re at during the day, right?

So, uh, I know anecdotally that I’m terrible in the morning. I am, I am. I can barely spell my own name, right? Um, but after a while I warm up and I get ready to go and I’m able to do things. But how nice is it that within under five minutes I can do a quick neurocognitive check and see if my brain’s in a great state, right?

Is today a good day for me to pursue a personal best, or is today a day that I. Go more towards recovery, right? And potentially reduce my chance for injury because I’m not all the way there today. And so this, this idea of, of warming up, you know, the, these short, intermittent, uh, what I would say boosts to your cognitive capabilities, uh, I think there’s huge benefit.

And, and it’s underutilized right now because one, I don’t think most people know about it. And so, you know, this gets back into that education and, uh, familiarity that I’m trying to promote within the, uh, the athletic domain. Warm up your brain just like you warm up your body. . Oh, it’s so true. And you know, it’s another thing too that I think is fascinating.

When, when I think about fear, the way I speak about fear is whether it’s fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of other people’s opinions, um, fear of judgment. They all point back to a core fear like an apex sphere, which is the fear of the unknown, this unknown, this unfamiliarity uncertainty. And I feel like when we do visualization, or I like to call it imagination because I like to activate as many senses as possible, not just the visual.

So visualization to me is a little bit limiting. When you imagine, you know, you can smell, you can taste, you know, you can go a little deeper and make it that much more real and, and close the gap between that which is real and that which is imagined. Is there anything with your technology, or even just in neuro performance in general, that.

That shows maybe something that could be supportive of the value of imagination and visualization, because a lot of people buy into it. But for every one person that buys into it, there’s probably plenty more that don’t take advantage of it. You know, you see people, you know with vision boards. I myself, um, have my own strategy where I, um, imagine myself either if there’s, let’s say there’s a car I want, I imagine what the seat feels like around my le the top of my legs, my butt, my lower lumbar region.

I imagine what the steering wheel feels like. I hear the sound of the car. Matter of fact, I listen to video. to, you know, activate whatever sense it is I need, you know? Um, and it does seem to make things more comfortable and more familiar. And I just wonder is there something that you’ve bumped into that maybe talks about, and I think where I’m, what I’m trying to connect here to be a little more clear is tying in our human imagination in the neocortex perhaps, and our fear of the unknown.

Yeah. I mean, props for the vision board. Um, I , I, I think there’s, there’s a lot to be said, you know, whether it’s, you know, putting that energy out into the universe or, or, or just, you know, trying to promote that belief, right? I think no matter how you, how you label it, it, it, again, this is me talking, but this, this comes back to that idea of repetition again, right?

I mean, you’re, you’re building, whether it’s through visualization or positive thought, , right? Your, your brain is working during visualization and positive thought. It’s just that you’re not physically moving, right? And so you’re, you’re working on repeating and stressing those pathways for goal, right? If, if I, you know, you look at, so somebody like Giannis is a great example from playoff basketball, free throw shooting.

You know, it got to the point where everybody was making fun of him for how long it was taking him to shoot a free throw, right? Everybody’s counting the 10 seconds all the time. He was close, if not over a lot. What was he doing? I, I think Kyrie is another great example of this. You know, you see these guys come up to the free throw line.

They spend the first two or three seconds eyes closed, visualizing right? My form, getting my heart rate where it needs to be calming myself down, right? Turning off that, that. part of the fight or flight mechanism cuz they’re in battle, right? Visualizing that, that action and executing on it, right? I mean that’s, that’s really what it is.

You’re, it’s a preparatory state, right? Before you execute a task, you’re, you’re putting yourself in that mindset. And, and from a neuro perspective, that’s a lot of what we do within the neurofeedback space. So whether it’s working with, uh, military snipers and being able to teach them how to be, uh, just like the experts in their brain state using neurofeedback, something like archery, uh, you know, where, where you’re kind of always these me versus me moments, right?

Um, penalty kicks in soccer free throws, um, goal kicks in rugby, right? It, there’s a lot of visualization involved. It’s repetition. It’s the same kind of motor movements all the time. But if you’re not in the right head space for it, , your, your, your chances of missing go up exponentially, right? Because now that very efficient network is being muddied by, you know, emotion or fear or other things.

And so this idea of visualization, um, meditation, things like that, right? All you’re doing is, is essentially activating those networks that need that repetitive, um, training, uh, in, in my belief that that kind of shortens that gap for that preparatory phase. Yeah. And so when, when you’re doing reps, are you increasing the thickness of the axons?

Are you decreasing the frequency of pruning? Are you doing both? Like what, what, what are reps like from a physical neurological standpoint, what are reps doing? Yeah, I mean, If, if the pathway isn’t fully efficient, right? This gets into our superhighways versus back roads argument. Um, you know, that there may be some degradation of signal, uh, to go from A to B, right?

That it, it may kind of spread off into C, D, E and F right? A little bit. And so that slows the process down. Uh, I mean, myelination, right? Um, you know, that’s gonna increase the speed of how a signals being able to be sent. And that’s kind of where you, you see the changes over time for, you know, kind of normal adolescent human development of gray matter to white matter ratio changing, right?

Because we’re, we’re kind of getting rid of those side back roads, uh, and, and really strengthening up the, those superhighways. So yeah, I mean, there is a, there is a neurophysiological change that occurs. Uh, for sure. And, and I think, like I said, this idea of repetition really helps to kind of feed that.

And, and you know, like anything else, the, the more you do it, the better you’re gonna get at it. So if you can practice it in your brain, it’s gonna make it a little bit easier when you actually have to go for it. I love it. Um, as we wrap things up, would love to hear some case studies specifically with the elite performance Solution systems and the different, uh, devices you have available.

Would love to hear some anecdotal evidence. You know, everyone wants proof nowadays. You don’t, you know, everyone’s always looking for that. that, uh, those testimonials, that proof, that social proof. What are some of the, the most fascinating, interesting anecdotes or case studies that you’ve come upon thus far?

Uh, I mean, that, that’s a whole podcast in itself, uh, to be honest, because e every sport’s different, um, you know, every occupation is different in its own sense, and I am, I am never, uh, I’m, I’m never not surprised by what I see, double negative, but it works. Um, you know, like whether it’s working with, uh, world Cup rugby team, where with just a little bit, bit of time spent with them, we could differentiate between backs and forwards.

Positionally based off of neurocognitive data blind to the user, right. Uh, working with, uh, Division one college football championship team, were blinded to who was the starter versus the third stringer using our cognitive combine capabilities to be able to create a death chart based off of cognitive skill alone and seeing that that matched one-to-one with the actual depth chart, uh, of a team.

Right. And that’s not knowing experience or physical skillset or anything else. Um, you know, there, there’s just countless examples. Um, we just to kind of bring back to your, your love of focus and attention. We just completed a, a little mini study that looked at individuals improving their cognitive performance, uh, on like decision making tasks with just a few hours of, of use of our focus product.

Right. So you, you want to talk about, you know, there’s the neuroplastic changes that are kind of more long lasting. . Right? And that’s where I think training comes in. But, but you can get like a temporary boost, uh, you know, a cognitive cup of coffee if you will, uh, for, for performance when you need it. And so we worked with a, a couple, uh, special operators, uh, and they basically used the focus product, um, sometimes and then sometimes they didn’t on a series of tasks.

And, you know, we, we measured the performance basically like a control versus, um, intervention study. And we saw much better improvements within just an hour of use, right? And, and that, you know, the, the decay rate is something that we still have to figure out, right? I need some more data before I can tell you that it’ll last for four hours or whatever.

Um, but this, this idea that just, you know, with a little bit of neurofeedback, you can get an uptick in performance, you know that that might be a, an edge. Or a game changer for somebody who is already at the peak level of their performance, right? I can get a little bit of an edge from a cognitive standpoint to make me a little bit better for a little while game on.

Right? Why wouldn’t I use that? And so, you know, I think that that really feeds into like where you’re talking about with, you know, warming things up with, you know, eye movements and, you know, warming the brain up and everything else. When it comes down to performance, you wanna be firing on all cylinders when you need to be without distractions.

And so this idea of using neurotech to be able to, to get you to that peak state of performance from the neck up, I think is really gonna be the big game changer in the, in the coming years. Yeah, and I even think maybe there’s even a little bit of that recency, uh, kind of bias playing in perhaps where an.

Is feeling maybe an, it maybe even has an additive effect where it’s getting the real effect of the devices that you have that we use to improve the cognition and, and the neuro performance. But then there’s also that, that recency bias of, Hey, I just did this use this focused device, uh, from a lead performance.

I just used it within an hour. They have scientific data to back it up. I already feel like I have an advantage. Half of it maybe is real advantage. The other half might even just be an increased belief or elevated vibe. Those pair together. And it’s almost like, I don’t know if I’m dating myself, but back in the day, you know, we had Wonder Twin powers activate and the Wonder Twin powers, you know, together were much better than them separately they had an additive effect.

So I wonder if that could also be factoring in as well. It’s, yeah, no, absolutely. And, and I think, you know, there is definite value in that, right? I mean, you know, of course you’re always gonna. Get a little bit of a, a potential placebo effect just from a, a, an increase in arousal, right? Like, that’s why VR is so effective, right?

When people say, oh, when you use vr, you’re gonna get an increase in X Y right? Of course. Because you’re bombarding them visually and they’re doing something novel, and so of course they’re gonna be more highly attending, right? But, but that to me is where the, the beauty of our, our train or our test train and track comes in is that, you know, I can go back and, and use that b n a analysis and actually show you neurophysiologically that those changes are occurring, right?

This isn’t just a, uh, you know, an excitement and a one-off belief that, you know, I’m going to do better. And so I do. We’re actually changing your brain for the better. Uh, and I think that’s really where the power, uh, of where neuro performance is now, is that we can provide that evidence, uh, pretty quickly.

I love it. Tom, we could probably go on for hours. Hey, we gotta pay homage cuz you’re Tom Nugent the third. So I just wanna take a moment to respect those ahead of you. Tom Nugent, numero uno. And do guys, thank you. You, you definitely brought the third in with a, with a bang today, Tom, the subject that you talk about, I love how you break down something so.

So cool. Uh, so next level. And so being ahead of the game, I just, I can’t thank you enough for your time. Um, tell me a little bit more about if someone wants to reach out. There’s definitely gonna be people that are gonna be very intrigued. As am I, matter of fact, we should probably talk after this. I have a couple ideas on how you and I could, uh, Unite.

Now with Elite Performance Solutions, if, if there’s an athlete, a coach, a team, a school that wants to connect with you or maybe take a next step, what would be the most next logical step and where are they gonna find you? Yeah. So, uh, you know, one, thank you for, for hosting and like I said, uh, spreading the gospel is, I think, you know, the first big step for this, right?

I mean, the, the technology and the capabilities out there, it’s just getting the awareness, uh, to a level to get people excited about it. Um, so I, I mean, the easiest thing, you know, go to our website, right? Um, check out what we’re doing. Uh, there’s different products out there and different needs, um, you know, whether it’s for a team or for an individual.

You know, I, I really like to look at us from a sports perspective. You know, we can, we can hit three major points, uh, real quick, right? We can, we can help you identify next generation talent, right? Uh, you may have the best on your team already, but you’re looking for the next version of Jay, right? So let’s look at Jay’s brain, and then we can see who has a brain like Jay, right?

Or if they don’t have a brain like Jay, how do we get their brain like Jay, right? So, so we can really help identify that next level of talent. So you think about recruitment drafts, things like that, right? There’s, there’s a lot of, um, hand waving that’s done. Um, you know, and, you know, we talk about combines and measuring people’s hand size and wonder licks and everything else, right?

That doesn’t always pan out for as many good picks. There’s a lot of bad ones, right? So why not? Why not include the brain and things like that. So it’s an identifying talent. It’s improving your existing talent, getting the best out of them that you can. And then I think it’s. , it’s for the athletes who may be on the cusp of one last contract.

Right? Am I ready to hang up my, my cleats or my shoes, or can I go a little bit longer? Right. Elevate your brain capability to, to eek out a little bit more. Right. Um, looking at maintaining brain health, not just for your career, but for post-career. Um, you know, there’s a lot to offer for kind of every stage in the life cycle of an athlete that we, you know, from the neck up we can provide a, a lot of benefit for.

So yeah, check out the websites, see what we’re up to. Uh, you know, you can, there’s a form you can reach out, you can hit us at info at, uh, our social media handles wherever you want to go. We’re, we’re always here and ready to answer. You have a neuroscientist on the phone standing by, waiting to talk to you.

So and it’s elite, correct? Uh, yeah. Or elite performance So either way. Uh, we is less typing. So , , less cognitive load. . Yes, exactly. Yeah. All right, Tom, well thank you so very much and uh, we’ll talk soon. Yeah, sounds good. Appreciate it.