If you’ve noticed your driving skills slipping, have been in a recent car accident, or if you’re like me and have trouble seeing well at night, you may benefit from specialized brain training. Whether you’re a novice starting out or a senior at risk of losing the independence that comes with driving, there are certain programs designed to improve your focus, attention and reaction time.
One such program is DriveSharp by Posit Science®, a leading brain health company which builds scientifically validated, non-invasive programs for improving cognitive performance.
According to the company, using Drive Sharp three times a week in 20 minute sessions helps you:
- Increase your useful field of view by 200% and see more in your peripheral vision
- React faster to dangers and stop 22 feet sooner when traveling at 55 mph
- Drive with greater confidence at night, in traffic, and in new places
- Cut your risk of a car crash in half. Studies show that even people who are already good drivers can make substantial gains!
These are some pretty steep claims which are backed up by numerous studies including the National Institutes of Health funded ACTIVE study.
The program consists of two training exercises, Jewel Diver and Road Tour.
In Jewel Diver your task is to track hidden jewels as they move around the computer screen. The exercise increases in difficulty by adding more jewels to follow, increasing the time you follow them, widening the space they move in and lightening the background so it makes it harder to see them.
This exercise is designed to improve your brain’s ability to successfully divide its attention and track several moving objects at once. It also trains your visual precision which the company states is the ability to pick out objects when masked by the background.
How It Applies To Real Life
Training with Jewel Diver increases your ability to
- track multiple moving cars
- keep an eye on multiple children running around a playground
- track teammates (and opponents) in group sports such as soccer, basketball and football
- locate lost items and prevent falls
Try A Free Demo
You can try Jewel Diver for free with the company’s online demo. (You will need to enter your email address to access the demo.)
In Road Tour you hit the start button and are immediately presented with an automobile. At the same time a road sign pops up in the outer circle, and in an instant both are gone from the screen.
Then you are shown two automobiles and must choose the one you just saw on the screen. If you identify it correctly, you are asked to identify the area in which the road sign appeared.
The exercise increases in difficulty as it makes the autos look more similar, adds decoy road signs and then moves them further into your periphery.
Continued training improves visual processing speed and divided attention, as well as expands your useful field of view (the area over which a person can extract information in a single glance without moving his or her head or eyes).
How It Applies To Real Life
Road Tour is designed to increase your ability to:
- determine whether dark areas on the road are shadows or large holes
- notice cars approaching from the side as you near intersections
- determine whether the person coming from the side is a teammate or opponent
- avoid someone about to run into you in a crowded place
- notice children, animals and debris coming into the street when you are looking forward
I Had My Mom Try It Out
I took the software over to my parents’ house and had my mom sit down and try it out. The program began by asking her to create an account. Then an initial assessment was given to determine her baseline scores.
The on screen instructions were easy enough to follow, however if you tend to have a difficult time with computers, you’ll want to have a friend or family member walk you through set up. After that, the program is very user friendly.
She began Jewel Diver and performed extremely well. Her 23 years of teaching may have given her some practice in tracking the movement of several small targets at once.
The program self-adjusts its difficulty level so you are always challenged, but not discouraged. There is also a nice pause button that gives you the option of reviewing the instructions should you become confused or simply need a refresher.
Each training session lasts 10 minutes so you don’t feel like it’s dragging on. In fact, by the end of her Jewel Diver training, she was ready to start another round.
Next, she moved on to Road Tour. This exercise moved extremely fast and required her complete attention. We ultimately had to shut ourselves in a private room due to my dad and the dog making a ruckus in the living room.
(If you can’t train in a private room – or if you have a spouse, kids and/or dogs – you’ll want to wear headphones to block out surrounding distractions. You don’t need anything special – even your mp3 player’s ear buds will work fine.)
I noticed midway through Road Tour, she began to make a long series of errors. Fatigue had set in, and if there was any doubt that 20 minutes of training would be enough, it was fast put to rest.
Both exercises kept her attention, challenged her, and were fun enough that she was excited to continue with the program.
Many of the brain training programs on the market require ongoing training to maintain and improve results. I personally think a weekly regimen is a good idea, but for those of you who have difficulty committing to a lifetime of computer-based brain exercise, DriveSharp offers a reprieve.
Just ten hours of total training time gave users the results listed at the beginning of this article, and the improvement lasted several years.
You can certainly train more if you like, and the company suggests repeating the training twice a year if you feel you need a boost.
I spoke to CEO, Steven Aldrich
While I’ve long been a fan of co-founder, Dr. Michael Merzenich, I was curious about CEO, Steven Aldrich, who recently joined Posit Science from a company called Intuit (many of you use their software – QuickBooks).
He kindly agreed to
allow me to talk his ear off speak with me, and while I expected a pleasant discussion, I was surprised at the genuine passion and innovation that flowed out of him.
With his undergrad completed in Physics, Steven went on to obtain his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
I liked Steven, a lot. Here’s why. He thinks way outside of the box, and at a time when Posit could rest on its much deserved reputation as the leader in this industry, the company is redoubling its efforts to bring you highly scientific, targeted and engaging training. It also provides a community atmosphere where you have access to the tools and support you need to address your specific brain fitness issues.
Drive Sharp takes two exercises from the InSight program and offers them in an economical and targeted format. As you work through the training, you may decide you want to continue by exploring the rest of InSight.
You can upgrade right from your dashboard, and this gives you the opportunity to increase the scope of your training in steps instead of having to purchase a large program all at once.
Of course you don’t have to upgrade, and you may be content with sticking to the core DriveSharp training.
Steven and the team also want to hear from you – really. I asked him about a possible iPhone app, and while he was unable to give me a definitive yes or no, he was extremely interested in feedback on the issue.
With the response I’ve received here regarding brain training apps, I actually think it’s a no-brainer. However, the company can’t move forward with future offerings unless they know what you want.
So, when you take a look at the website and play around with the programs, remember to let the company know what you liked and what you’d like to see in the future.
You can do this by leaving a comment below, emailing me here or joining the discussions on the company’s message board.
Who’s It For?
Anyone looking to expand their useful field of view, react faster and cut their risk of crash. It should be noted, though, that the specific improvements shown in the supporting studies are those of drivers aged 60 and up.
What’s The Cost?
You can order the program for $89.00 from the company’s website.
If you’re a current AAA (American Automobile Association) member, you may be able to get the software through your local club for $79.00.
- Can install the program on multiple computers and link your training between them.
- FUN and engaging training that doesn’t make your head hurt.
- 90 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Real results backed by real science
- No summary scores after each session. Instead you take periodic assessments to measure your progress.
- The program is set up for one user only. (You must purchase a separate copy for each user you wish to add.)
Keep Up With Posit Science
Company and Product Images: ©PositScience
Brain Training 101 chooses products to review based on quality. Some of these products are part of affiliate programs which earn the site a commission, and DriveSharp is one of these products. Our philosophy has always been to provide in depth, honest reviews of high quality products regardless of their participation in affiliate programs.