Researchers Look Into the Brains of Hockey Fans

Sports Stars are amazing with their skills and precisions. They develop the ability to predict a player’s next move . But did you know that a dedicated sports fan can also get a similar predictive skillset? Recent research on predictive eye movement reveals that the brain of an ice hockey fan may share a similarity with the greatest hockey stars of all time. Just like the players, the brains of the fans have learned to function by following the action on the ice, without even noticing the puck.

The Research

When our eyes track any activity of fast-moving small objects, it generally takes more processing time for our brains. Researchers have long noted this particular lag time. But in some cases, the eyes can be trained to follow a fast activity through the context of events happening around the focal object. A research team in Germany had been studying brain function by reading the speed of human eyes to follow dots of light. They contacted the team of James Elder, a computer and human vision researcher at York University, Toronto. Elder’s team was developing AttentiveVision, an automatic system with cameras and sensors to track the cognitive eye motions of the ice hockey game audiences.

The Explanation

As Elder explains, human eyes have a very wide field of view that is very important for us. When we cross the road, we want to know if a car is approaching us, and this wide field of view gives our brains the appropriate signal to steer our movements accordingly. But the fovea, the small area located at the center of human retinas, is tightly packed with photoreceptors. It allows us to see focal things located in the center of our vision with a clear and high resolution. We track something of interest by moving this fovea two to three times. The researchers tracked this movement of the fovea and found out that the regular ice hockey audiences develop the ability to predict the action of passes even before it happens on the field.