Subliminal Cues Improve Athletic Performance

A new study finds that endurance athletes benefit from positive subliminal cues.

Subliminal visual cues are words, pictures, or symbols which are not consciously identified.

Researchers from Bangor University found exposure to positive subliminal cues helped endurance athletes exercise significantly longer compared to those who were shown sad faces or inaction words.

Samuele Marcora, Ph.D., in collaboration with colleagues presented the positive subliminal cues by using action-related words, including “go” and “energy” or showing the athlete happy faces.

The words and faces appeared on a digital screen — placed in front of the athlete — for less than 0.02 seconds and were masked by other visuals, meaning they were unidentifiable to the participant’s conscious mind.

Researchers say this is the first study to demonstrate that subliminal visual cues can directly affect performance during exercise.

Additionally, it confirms that the perception of how much effort someone thinks they are using can be altered during exercise. That is, exercise performance may be enhanced by subliminal cues.

Marcora is currently exploring ways in which this research could open up new possibilities for athletes to improve their performance during competitions by using technology — such as “smart glasses” — to provide positive subliminal cues.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Source: University of Kent

Runners photo by shutterstock.