DETROIT, MI – This week, researchers from Posit Science, maker of BrainHQ computerized brain exercises, will present data gathered with two major automobile insurers in field trials, showing the use of the BrainHQ exercises significantly reduces auto crash incidence and auto insurance claims in real-world settings.
Dr. Henry Mahncke of Posit Science will address the 8th World Research Congress on Vision and Driving, “The Eye, the Brain & the Auto” conference, at 11am on Tuesday, October 9th in Detroit. The data show real-world transfer from computerized cognitive training to the everyday task of driving.
“There has been quite a bit of discussion in the field about whether improvements from computerized brain training exercises can transfer beyond the exercises to real-life benefits,” said Dr. Mahncke. “With results in from two auto insurers – each showing that brain training significantly reduces the number of crashes that older drivers have – it is now clear that the right kind of brain training can deliver significant real-world benefits.”
In the field trials, older drivers were offered the web-based brain training exercises for free by their auto insurer, and trained for up to 10 hours over several weeks on their own home computers. Data analyses compared the number of crashes before and after training, as well as with a matched control group.
The field trials ran for over three years and together involved more than 10,000 people who completed the brain training program. In both trials, brain training significantly reduced the incidence of crash-related insurance claims.
The brain training exercises are not like traditional driving safety classes, which remind drivers what the rules of the road are. Instead, the brain exercises progressively challenge and improve the brain’s visual speed and accuracy.
By pushing the brain to process visual information more quickly and accurately, users of the exercises improve their “Useful Field of View” (UFOV) — a term scientists use to describe the amount of visual information that can be taken in with a single glance. With age, UFOV typically decreases—causing drivers to miss quick events in their peripheral vision that could alert them to dangerous driving situations—which is why older drivers tend to have more crashes at intersections and with adjoining lanes.
The new field trials build on evidence from a number of randomized controlled trials run by university-based researchers, showing that the brain training exercises improve UFOV and driving safety. These studies have shown that people who use the exercises make 36 percent fewer dangerous maneuvers while driving; improve their reaction time by an amount equal to 22 feet of additional stopping distance at 55mph; and better maintain their driving safety and independence, making them 40% less likely to have to stop driving. Notably, the ACTIVE Study—involving more than 2,800 people—showed that this approach reduced at-fault crashes by 48 percent over a six-year period as compared to the control group.
The exercises used in the field trials have been commercialized by Posit Science. They are available as the Drivesharp brain training program from select auto insurers, who offer the program at no charge to eligible policyholders and provide an insurance premium discount to those who complete the 8-10 hour program. Posit Science also makes the exercises available through its BrainHQ web and mobile apps, as the “Double Decision” and “Target Tracker” exercises. Portions of BrainHQ can be accessed for free, and general access subscriptions are $8-14 per month.