Learn The Science

Have you ever looked at a golfer’s brain map image from an EEG (Electroencephalograph) to discover where activity level is present? Did you know there are obvious differences between the brain map of an elite level golfer versus a novice, as well as the same golfer hitting a desirable shot versus an undesirable one? The “elite golfer” and “good shot” brain maps show a more synchronous state, meaning that the conscious and subconscious mind are on the same page. This kind of activity is best for optimum performance on the golf course. The THINQ Golf Team has spent countless research hours ensuring that THINQ Golf Games work to achieve this desired state of mind and improve performance.

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Research Study Design

THINQ Golf games were developed from a research base. A laboratory measure of each mental skill (i.e., Awareness, Attention, Synchronicity, Intention, and Adaptability) was used to design the THINQ Golf games.  Upon completion, each game was also research tested to determine the efficacy of the game to influence brain patterns, golf performance, or both.

Study 1 examined the effect of the THINQ Golf Awareness game on brain patterns and performance on a 105 yard shot to a flag stick. Study 2 tested the effect of the THINQ Golf Attention and Synchronicity games on brain patterns and golf putting performance (12 ft. putt).  Electroencephalograph (EEG) and performance measures were assessed before and after the 10 min game intervention. Study 3 examined the effect of a 3-week THINQ Golf Attention Game training intervention on EEG brain activity and golf putting performance. Study 4 compared the Intention game with control golfers putting 20, 12 ft. putts.

Study Results and Graphs

The 10 minutes of THINQ Golf Attention game play significantly (p<.05) reduced cm error from the hole (10%) compared to controls (6%).  The significant reduction in temporal alpha ratio suggests that the golfers in the THINQ Golf Attention mental training game were less reliant on verbal-analytical and feature detection processes. The golfers were able to spare more mental resources to relevant information and improve their golf performance. The increase in left frontal alpha ratio indicates that the brain became more positive with THINQ Golf Attention game training; a great place to be to play golf. The 3-week Attention game training elicited a significant increase in putts made (53%) compared to control golfers (decrease 16%) 

Study Results and Graphs

THINQ Golf’s Intention game training (10 minutes) illustrated a significant decrease (24%) in cm error from the hole compared to control golfers who increased cm error (9%) from the hole. There was also a 39% increase in number of putts made following the THINQ Golf Intention game play, while controls increased putts made by 6%.

Study Results and Graphs

As awareness increased through THINQ Golf’s Awareness game training, brain activity decreased and became more synchronous (brain maps). The golfers moved to “quiet consciousness” in the final second before initiating the swing. This means that conscious processing was completed and the swing was ready to run automatically by the subconscious. In turn, the control golfers who did not play the Awareness game showed increased left hemisphere activity (graph), which is negatively related to performance.

Study Results and Graphs

The THINQ Golf Synchronicity game was especially helpful to less skilled golfers. Game training with Synchronicity for 10 minutes showed a significant increase in quality of feel for putting (6%) compared to control golfers who decreased quality of feel (8%).

How to Read Brain Maps

An EEG (electoencephalograph) represents the amount of electrical activity in a specific area of the brain.

Since we are using surface electrodes, we are measuring the cerebral cortex, which is conscious thought.

It is not possible to tell what someone is thinking from the maps, they must provide this information. However, the maps provide insight once the golfer has switched to an automatic state and can no longer tell us their thoughts until after the performance. Each map represents the final second of preparation prior to initiating the stroke or the two seconds during the complete motion of the stroke.

EEG results are specific to the area of the brain involved and the frequency range of the signal. FP2 and FP1 play a role in cognitive control. They help orchestrate cognition and behavior, or thought and action in the brain. F3 and F4 reflect emotional processing. C3 and C4 represent the motor cortex while T3 and T4 reflect balance, auditory processing, and perhaps anxiety in the brain. P3 and P4 are areas used extensively for problem solving and perhaps arousal regulation and O1 and O2 represent visual processing. Even numbered sites are the right hemisphere and the odd numbered sites represent the left hemisphere.

The right hemisphere is the location of creativeness, imagery, timing, rhythm, balance, autonomic control and sees things in whole. The left hemisphere is our verbal, analytical, logical side of the brain that sees parts and sequences.

The EEG frequency examined was from 5-30 Hz. However, for purposes of simplification these frequency bands will be grouped into theta (5-7Hz), alpha (8-12 Hz), beta (13-20Hz), and beta 2 (21-30Hz). Theta (top left map) represents pleasure/displeasure or a dreamy state and is often negatively associated with attention and golf performance. Alpha (top right map) represents relaxed concentration. Beta (bottom left map) is an active processing state that is generally negatively related to performance; however, during high psychological stress beta and beta 2 become very active. Beta 2 (bottom right map) represents active processing; however, in sport performance there has been a burst of high beta 2 activity (24-28 Hz) that correlates with successful putting performance.

EEG brain maps are read by the color represented and the balance of activity in each site of each hemisphere. The brighter the color, the more the activity in that specific location.

In adults, the left hemisphere is more active in a resting state and beta is the dominant frequency. In children the right hemisphere is more active and alpha is the dominant frequency. Past golf research with putting has shown that during the final 3 seconds before initiating the stroke, the left hemisphere tends to quiet while the right hemisphere becomes slightly more active.

There exists a window of balanced activity that is optimal for each individual prior to the start of the motion. When golfers are in an optimal state, the activity is the same in all four brain maps. During the motion it is hypothesized that all four maps will also look the same for optimal performance. Higher right hemisphere activation tends to be less detrimental to performance than higher left hemisphere activity.

Alpha is the frequency that we know the most about from a research perspective. T3 and T4 tend to show the most hemispheric differentiation during golf putting, specifically in alpha. This is where there may be an imbalance that could become more balanced with preshot routine training, imagery training and EEG biofeedback training.

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