Ford’s ‘The Psychology Of Performance’ Uses Brain-Scanning Helmet to Make Auto Racing Relevant to the Everyday Driver Ford Motor Company’s ‘Performance’ division aimed to make its racing activities more relevant to the ordinary person on the street.
Its Brain-Scanning Helmet project is part of its drive to understand everyday consumers and explore how and where motorsports can fit into their lives. The initiative, called "The Psychology Of Performance", saw Ford team up with Oath, Mindshare and King’s College London on an experimental driving-focused, tech-led study and an associated branded content European marketing campaign based on the brain's performance, under high-pressure conditions.
Built around a bespoke Electroencephalogram (EEG) Helmet, the idea sees Ford test if the mental techniques used by its racing drivers genuinely improve on-track performance: using mind-training methods ranging from meditation to visualisation.
The aim was to see if these can also be applied to everyday performance – thus testing whether normal drivers can train their minds to perform like a racer behind the wheel.
Ford worked on the research with King’s College London and production studio Unit9 to conduct the research: tracking how the human body reacts to mental training through a headset that measured the electrical brain activity of study participants – who included both Ford’s professional racing drivers and members of the public.
The subjects were put through a series of virtual reality driving challenges and driving simulators and their reaction, response and concentration times were measured.
"We witnessed just how differently racing driver’s brains function, compared to members of the public. Travelling at high speed, in a state of high focus, their brains perform up to 40% better than you or I," said Dr Elias Mouchlianitis of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.
The good news though is that mental training techniques really do work. When members of the public carried out some mental exercise they also performed better. "We saw up to a 50% improvement in performance compared to the control group."
The experiment and its findings were communicated through a campaign developed with publisher Oath and media agency Mindshare as Ford sought to reach members of the public ‘less interested in racing’.
The campaign, which ran in several European countries (including the UK where the research was primarily based), was spearheaded by a hero online film called ‘Psychology of Performance’.