Researchers from Northumbria University have found that tricking the brain can lead to a staggering 5% improvement in performance. The study required trained cyclists to race an avatar opponent on a computer screen. The cyclists believed that the avatar was travelling at a speed equal to their own personal best. However, researchers knowingly programmed the avatar to cycle 1% faster than the cyclists believed. Despite this faster pace, the cyclists were able to match their opponent! Interestingly, researchers found that this improved pace was only achievable when the cyclist was unaware of the increased pace of the avatar. Therefore, it seems that a small deception of the brain can lead to enhanced performance.
The improved performance has something to do with what researchers believe is a reserve of energy production, which can be tapped into in well trained athletes. The research team conclude that this extra energy production can boost power output by as much as 2-5%.
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