What can racing driver brain waves tell us?

Young racing driverAs part of our collaboration with Arden and the Young Racing Driver Academy, we’ve been analysing the brain waves of young elite drivers. We’ve already gathered some fascinating insights.

In the moving graph below we can see the four different brain waves – alpha, beta, gamma and delta – mapped along with speed and turn pressure. The graph shows us brain activity (y axis) over time (x axis), with speed and turn pressure overlaid.

The trace below is from a driver racing on a new track for the first time. Watch to see how the brain waves change over time as speed and turn pressure rise and fall as the driver goes around the track.

So what does this all mean?

Before you check out the video, here’s the neuroscience behind it:

  • Green = Delta brain waves

Delta waves show the underlying, unconscious activity of the brain. They are prominent while sleeping and meditating, and their activity is often triggered by feelings of compassion and strong emotion.

  • Blue = Alpha brain waves

Alpha waves demonstrate concentration for everyday tasks. They show heightened attention.

  • Orange = Beta brain waves

Beta waves show focussed attention on a particular task. They’re specific to focussing on one action, rather than paying attention to many tasks.

  • Yellow = Gamma brain waves

Gamma waves are linked to multitasking. They show different parts of the brain are working together, with activity switching quickly between different areas.

  • White = Speed

In this context, speed represents how fast the driver is going around the race track.

  • Grey = Turn pressure

Turn pressure is the pressure from the steering dampener. The higher the pressure, the harder the turn on the track.

Can you spot the patterns?

The activity of all brain waves often dips shortly before a gradual increase in speed. This would be explained by a brief period of rest following increased brain activity for a turn in the track. Watch the different brain wave patterns and see what predictions you can come up with.

These subtle patterns are just the beginning of our research. With increasing amounts of data, our Deep Learn™ machine learning engine will soon be able to make connections that allow us to predict driver behaviour and potential. For more information on our research with Arden, read Brain telemetry: Predicting the performance of elite drivers. And find out about the official launch of the study here: Cognisess at the Wearable Technology Show 2017.