Ford Performance is looking to improve your mental performance by relying on tactics used by professional drivers, VR, and an EEG. Prototype of a racing helmet integrated with EEG Ford is currently working on (Photo via Ford)


When you’re a professional driver, concentration is a must when behind the wheel. Letting your focus break could lead to a major accident, which is why they use certain mental training techniques. One of these methods includes a new brain scanning helmet that measures how racecar drivers improve their performance with mental training. This is part of a new study that explores these same mental training techniques could help us all deal with the stress of everyday life. 


While many athletes have been using mental training techniques to improve their performance for a while, it’s just spreading to the mainstream. Since people are constantly looking for new ways to deal with stress this new study looks at how these techniques used by athletes might improve our own brain performance.


Dubbed The Psychology of Performance Study, it’s being developed by Ford Performance, a motorsport branch of the US car maker in collaboration with King’s College London and tech partner UNIT9. The test works by using an EEG (electroencephalogram) headset that monitors your brainwaves. It’s ideal for this experiment since it’s versatile and has the ability to be used outside of lab setting. This way brainwaves can be studied in real-life situations and, in this case, VR.


Participants, which will include professional drivers and members of the public, will have their performance and brain activity measured throughout the test. Some participants will have prepared using mental techniques while others will have no preparation at all. This will allow researchers to see how these two groups perform with and without the mental training.


The team hopes by using VR that they can study how fatigue affects your driving and whether or not mental training can help improve focus and alertness for longer periods of time. Dr Elias Mouchlianitis of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London says the benefit of using VR is having “the subject is completely absorbed in your experiment; there are fewer distractions and you can control everything about the world that surrounds them in very precise ways.”


Aside from the study, Ford is also working on a prototype EEG race helmet for their motorsport team to be used in live simulations. Designers will integrate the EEG headset and sensors into a race helmet to measure drivers’ brainwaves in real-life practice environments. The results of the study will be published later on this month.



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