In any form of sport, being immensely involved in it has tremendous positive effect in an individuals character that extends all the way to the other aspects of his life.
This is what Ford found out in a test they commissioned to look into the mind of a race driver and find out how it works. In fact, the test used EEG testing to see whether normal drivers can train their minds to perform like a racer.
Whether you’re giving a big presentation or in an important job interview, zoning into the same high-performance mindset as a racing driver could be the key to succeeding in high-pressure situations.
Researchers from Ford and King’s College in London used EEG (electroencephalography) headsets to analyze the brain activity of professional racing drivers while playing racing simulators. These drivers included WRC champion Sebastian Ogier and World Touring champion Andy Priaulx.
Using these two as base line performance level, they then had ordinary perform the same task at the racing simulators. In the test, some drivers were made to perform mental preparation while others did not.
The study concluded that simple brain training techniques can help everyone reach peak performance both on and off the circuit.
“The study data revealed that when travelling at high speed and in a state of high focus, racing drivers’ brains performed up to 40 per cent better when it comes to ignoring distractions than yours or mine,” said Dr Elias Mouchlianitis, neuroscience researcher at King’s College London.
“The interesting thing we found, however, was that when normal people performed some simple mental exercises, they were also able to reach this higher level of performance.”
Simple breathing and meditation exercises, plus a visualisation technique that uses keywords to describe the task ahead, saw normal drivers improve their focus and performance by as much as 50 per cent.
“Racing drivers aren’t necessarily born with this skill; our experiment showed that simple mental training ahead of a task can help anyone to improve focus and ignore distractions, making them more successful at the task in hand,” explains Touring champion Andy Priaulx.
Based on the research, Ford is now developing an EEG-equipped racing helmet for its professional drivers, where brain activity data can be transmitted back to the team during a race alongside other in-car car telemetry.
While physical attributes such as hydration and heart rate are already monitored, Ford believes that understanding the driver’s mental state during a race – and making decisions accordingly – is the next frontier in performance.
“When things get tough and the pressure’s on that’s when you need to get in this zone, and the good guys, the successful racing drivers, are able to do that whether that’s on the track or off it,” said Priaulx.