It's all in the mind: Ford commissions a study on unlocking the secrets behind mental performance.

We’ve all been there, putting ourselves out of our comfort zone, whether giving a presentation to a large crowd or pulling off a game-changing deal in the boardroom. Whatever the zone is, you need the mindset to succeed. Ford recently commissioned a study on racing drivers and their key to success, and whether it can be emulated by others in demanding situations away from the track.

Sports psychology is big business, helping professional athletes stay at the top of their game but how can regular people use the tools to boost mental performance that champions employ? Ford worked with neuroscientists at King’s College London, to find out how anyone can boost their mental performance in everyday life using the visualisation and mental training techniques favoured by its racing drivers.

We all want to be at the top of our game so we should learn from the expertise on the race track, with drivers fuelling themselves on adrenaline. Ford’s experiment, The Psychology of Performance, addressed this, allowing us to understand the psychology behind mental techniques and how they can affect performance - whether you’re racing at Silverstone or wanting to perform better at work or at home. Testing brain activity in virtual reality driving challenges, allowed the researchers to measure reaction and concentration times, both in Ford drivers and members of the public.

Dr Elias Mouchlianitis of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, who designed the experiment explained: “When an athlete or driver needs to move beyond their core performance they need to expand their perception and tune into subtle sensory signals to try to find the ones that matter. They also need to expand their library of performance, they need to learn new exercises that are completely different from the main driving task but that help discover those factors that make a difference.”

Talking about the results, Dr Mouchlianitis said: “We were able to witness just how differently pro drivers 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. The other interesting thing we found 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. The results and insights around how to maximise the performance of the brain can also be applied outside of the sports arena as we better understand how we can all improve our own mental performance through mental preparation in everyday life.

Something for 2018 then?

December 2017