When I was doing research on the Qball and using it to train fast reactions I suddenly realized that what I was seeing and reacting to was not occurring in real time.
When I would bounce and catch the Qball quickly I would watch it and reach out to grab it. With practice I got faster and made fewer mistakes. Upon further analysis it became clear what processes were occurring to allow me to do this.
First my eyes had to see the Qball hit the ground and rebound upward This is a process where my eyes convert light into an electrical signal that can be sent to my brain by way of the optic nerve.
Then my brain had to recognize the image and decide how my arms and hands should move to in order to catch the ball.
Lastly, my brain would send complex electrical signals to all the muscles in my arms and hands to execute the movement needed to catch the Qball. This whole process takes time, somewhere in the order of 150 – 300 milliseconds.
If I were to actually bounce and catch the Qball in real time it would be long past the place my hands reached to catch it.
The Qball is too fast for my eye-hand circuitry. In order to catch in real time this circuitry would have to be instantaneous which we know it isn’t. So how is it I could catch the Qball and do it very quickly?
The answer is that the brain compensates for its slow processing speed by predicting the trajectory of the Qball and instructing my arms and hands to intercept that trajectory at the appropriate time. It is a complex judgment that involves space and timing.
The next curious thing I discovered was that even though I was not doing this exercise in real time, my brain fooled me into thinking I was doing it in real time. It would purposely change my perception of time and space.
I had 2 questions, how and why?
I cannot answer the “how” question, but the “why” question was obvious. It came to me as I was thinking what my daily life would be like if my brain did not fool me.
Every moving object would have a slight delay associated with it. That would be annoying to say the least.
A similar example is watching a person on TV speak but the sound of the words don’t match up to the lip movements. It turns out our brains will match up the lips to the words for any delay less than 85 milliseconds.
It will fool us into thinking there is no delay.
More than 85 milliseconds and our brains cannot do the matching so we notice the delay. Imagine that occurring all day long with our vision.
When I bounce and catch the Qball quickly my brain is working hard. It is not only seeing the Qball, but predicting its trajectory, speed and timing and then directing my hands to a point of interception so I can catch it.
Then it changes my perception of what just occurred to make me believe I did it in real time, when it is physically impossible. This occurs repeatedly with every bounce and catch.
It is true brain training.
The complexities of this exercise are generally taken for granted. Not so for the scientists who try to program robots to do the same thing. That’s when the remarkable ability of the human brain comes to light. There isn’t a super computer today that can do what our brains do.
The Qball is an effective tool to train this circuitry between the eyes, brain and body. It can be used by almost anyone of any ability.
They can bounce it slow or fast. The exercises improve the brains ability to predict trajectory, speed and timing. This translates into benefits in our daily lives, or when playing sports.
It is important, yet rarely trained. It really works and improves sports performance.
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