Whether preparing for an important presentation or a job interview, sharing a racing driver's high-performance mindset could help you get out of high-pressure situations with flying colors.
This is just one of the conclusions of a new investigation that seeks to unravel the secrets of the brains of competition pilots. The study, commissioned by Ford, concludes that simple mental training techniques can help everyone achieve optimal performance both on and off the circuit.
The Ford researchers and the King's College London they used EEG helmets (from electroencephalography) to analyze the brain activity of professional racing drivers while practicing in a racing simulator.
Among the pilots were the French Sébastien Ogier, five-time World Rally champion, and the English Andy Priaulx, three-time champion of the World Touring Car; who know what it is to succeed under pressure.
The performance of regular drivers was then recorded on the same simulator. Before, some had done mental prep exercises before the activity, others had not.
"The study data revealed that when traveling at high speeds and in a state of high concentration, the racing driver's brain is up to 40 percent better at ignoring distractions than yours or mine." stated the doctor Elias Mouchlianitis, a neuroscience researcher at King's College London.
"The interesting finding was that when people do a few simple mental exercises, they are also able to achieve that same level of performance.", Agregó.
Simple breathing and meditation exercises, as well as a visualization technique that uses keywords to describe the task ahead, made normal drivers improve their concentration and performance by up to 50 percent.
"When things get tough and pressure comes, that's when you have to reach that state, and the good guys, the successful drivers, are capable of achieving it both on and off the track." Priaulx explained.
“Pilots are not necessarily born with this ability; our experiment showed that a simple mental preparation before a task can help improve concentration and ignore distractions, making them more successful at it ”, Mouchlianitis added.
Based on this research, Ford is developing an EEG-equipped racing helmet for its professional drivers in which mental activity data can be transmitted to the team during a race along with other car telemetry. While other physical attributes such as hydration and heart rate are already being monitored, Ford believes that understanding the driver's mental state during a race - and making decisions based on it - is the next frontier of performance.