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Brain training the name of the game at Franklin's Gardens

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints has partnered with the University of Cambridge and Peak for an innovative research project investigating the links between cognition, brain training and elite sports performance.

Over the course of this summer's pre-season training, a number of the Saints squad have regularly undertaken assessments in different key cognitive areas identified as important in elite sports performance.

Half of the group then underwent memory training for 30 days using the Peak Advanced Training Memory game, after which point the entire group was assessed again. This brain training will continue during the 2015/16 season using Peak’s Pro plan with data being tracked and analysed at regular intervals, aiming to adapt brain training to each player’s individual needs.

Saints physio Lee Daggett is leading the study at Franklin's Gardens, and says that this study will give the club's medical team some good insights into an important area of their work.

“Sports performance, especially at the elite level, depends both on outstanding physical and mental ability,” he said. “This is certainly true in rugby union, when coaches need players to be able to maintain their focus and make correct decisions even after playing 80 minutes of intense action.

“The partnership with the University of Cambridge and Peak will give us the wherewithal not just to measure our players' cognitive abilities, but also to assess the impact of brain training in improving their performance levels and recovery from the head injuries which can sometimes occur in a contact sport.

“This is of particular interest to us as a medical team, as it will enable our assessment and management of such injuries to be much more thorough and directed, leading to improved player welfare.”

An industry-leading company based in London, Peak’s team of developers and scientists are committed to using the latest technology and techniques in helping people to enjoy getting better every day using its brain training apps and software.

Peak research scientist Elias Mouchlianitis says that he is thrilled by the ongoing project and working with the Saints.

 “Working with the Northampton Saints players and staff is a unique and exciting opportunity for us, not least because the club is setting the highest standards on and off the pitch,” he commented. “Investigating the impact of brain training in these elite players can help us understand important aspects of cognitive function that can potentially benefit men and women at all levels of sport, as well as the every day brain training user.”

 “We are thrilled to collaborate with an elite sports club such as Northampton Saints,” said Barbara J Sahakian, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge. “This project brings together the pioneering research in Cambridge University and innovative approach of Peak, this time investigating the use of the University of Cambridge and Peak Memory Advanced Training plan in a unique population such as professional rugby players.

“This is a very promising prospect to see real-world application of brain training, and the outcomes of the research can help further extend our previous findings of the beneficial effects of brain training in other areas of the population.”