Play a risk game and wear a helmet
During an experiment, the research team had 40 people play a card game on the computer, in which participants choose between a high-risk and a lower-risk gambling option in each trial. Half of the participants wore a bike helmet under the cover-story that the eye tracker mounted on it measures their eye movements. During the game, the Jena scientists used EEG to observe what was happening in participants' brains, which led them to an exciting discovery: The so-called "Frontal Midline Theta Power" -- the brain activity that characterises the weighing up of alternatives in the decision-making process -- was much less pronounced in the helmet wearers. "Therefore, we conclude that the helmet clearly has an impact on decision-making in the risk game. Obviously, participants associate a feeling of safety with wearing the bike helmet," explains Dr Barbara Schmidt, head of the study. Cognitive control, as psychologists call the neuronal mechanism of weighing things up, is less pronounced when wearing a helmet. "It is possible that this is a priming effect," said Schmidt. "This means that the significance we associate with a helmet automatically has a cognitive effect that is also measurable in the brain."