Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reaction Time

You guys sent me a ton of interesting information, and in case any of you might find it useful, here's a link to the studies:
Increasing Speed of Processing With Action Video Games (thanks Matt C.)

A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study on the Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Neural Processing Speed and Efficiency (thanks C. Lee)
I don't think that a supplement at Eli 13.6s age is a necessary option, but it's a fascinating possibility.

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (also from Steve Nygard)
Here's a brief description from the Amazon page:
Presents a compelling case for why we are attracted to the wrong strategies for learning and teaching—and what we can do to remedy our approaches… In clear language

Anticipation and Timing in Human Motor Performance (from Garret Rempel, of course)
This is a fascinating article, and it draws a distinction between pure reaction time and functional reaction time. Here's a description:
Receptor anticipation is present in situations in which stimulus events are displayed ahead, so that the subject can preview the approaching events and respond without the lag due to reaction time.

So raw reaction time isn't the best measurement of performance for an activity that requires a complex and coordinated response. Receptor anticipation creates a situation where an individual can respond far more quickly than in a situation where there are no stimulus events.

This all makes sense, because reacting to a shot in hockey involves a set of what can be very complex clues: skate angle, whether the skater is gliding, stick angle, shoulder position--when I think about it, it's entirely amazing that anyone (let alone Eli 13.6) could process all that information and translate it (without any conscious mental effort) into physical reactions. Our brains are incredible.

So to reframe what I'm trying to help Eli with, it's really not just raw reaction time. It's (I'm not even sure this is a term) functional reaction time, where training improves the ability of someone to perform complex movements in specific situations. Improving reaction time as measured by a computer program or something is not the goal.

Being so far away from a hockey nexus has required us to go off the grid, in many cases. And I've been meaning to write about that for months, but somehow haven't gotten around to it yet. It's very much a mad scientist situation, except and Eli and I are both mad scientists, trying to do everything we can to help him reach his goals.

That's one of the distinct things about Eli. He doesn't have dreams; he has goals.

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