January 31, 2019
The Irish Sun
Niamh Anderson

AN IRISH scientist who helped create brain exercises for American football superstar Tom Brady says GAA stars should take inspiration from the US quarterback and train their brains.

Dubliner Peter Delahunt works for BrainHQ, a software firm in the US, used by the New England Patriots quarterback to improve his cognitive function.

And Peter reckons all sports stars should follow in Tom’s footsteps by adopting the unusual training method.

The 55-year-old, originally from Skerries, said: “Tom Brady discovered BrainHQ by himself back in 2014. He is an older quarterback by American standards, so he wanted to make sure his brain was performing at the top level and we have exercises that improve your basic speed of processing.

“We also have a number of exercises which improve your attention, or the amount of information you can take in from a single glance and Tom believes strongly that this is a big factor in his success and longevity.

“He’s in the Superbowl this Sunday he’s still performing at a top level at 41 so it’s very inspiring to other sports stars out there.

“But every fast sports game can benefit from faster brain processing, especially hurling.

“The ball is coming at maybe over 100kph, there’s so much activity going on in the field, you have to keep track of multiple players, there’s a very small ball coming very quickly towards you so players would really benefit from having a fast brain.

“Speed of processing is a very important factor in hurling so it would be a great idea for GAA players too.”

Peter left Ireland in 1986 and travelled to England before completing a PHD in the University of California in Santa Barbara. Shortly after, he landed job with Posit Science where he helped develop BrainHQ, originally designed to cut the long term risk of dementia.

It’s a series of 29 different exercises developed to help with decision making, attention, speedy, memory, people skills and navigation.

Explaining how the exercises improve cognitive ability, Peter said: “It changes the way the brain works so that you get a cleaner signal, less noise and a more accurate response.

“As an example, Tom Brady will be making decisions very quickly on the field, typically you have about three seconds to look around you, see the players and make an accurate throw so these exercises would help him be able to make those quick decisions quickly.”

This Sunday, Peter and his team will watch as Brady makes his ninth Superbowl appearance against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Irish dad-of-two says training the brain can not only improve cognitive function, but it can also improve the brain’s physical strength – an advantage for any athlete susceptible to head injuries.

He said: “If you strengthen your brain, have cognitive reserve and your brain is performing at a high level, your brain is able to withstand impact better than if it was not in a good condition.

“The signals are stronger and there is less noise so it can withstand impact better than a noisy brain. We have a lot of research projects ongoing in that area.”

Five-time Super Bowl champion Brady isn’t the only sports star to use the unique training method.

England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane credits the method for his World Cup success where he went on to score five goals in just two games last summer.

And earlier last year it was revealed that the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all gained access to the brain training exercises.

But Peter says the exercises benefit everyone from international sports stars to students studying for exams or those who simply want to maintain a healthy brain.

He said: “We see the idea of having a healthy brain being a very important part of life. It’s like going to the gym and keeping physically fit and the younger you do it, the better.

“With the app, it’s easy to dip in and out of, we recommend 20 minutes a couple of times a week.”