Tracking Your Team
Reported December 2006
BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- From the quarterback to the tight end ... From passing ... tackling ... offense .... defense ... Sometimes it's tough for fans to keep up with all the action!
Color helps the fans, refs and coaches stay focused on an action-packed game. But what if everyone was wearing the same color? Could you still pay attention to the game?
If it weren't for colored jerseys, the game could be hard to follow. Johns Hopkins University Psychologist Justin Halberda, Ph.D., says our brains have trouble keeping track of more than three objects -- or players -- at one time.
"It appears to be something fundamental about the way the brain is made, that attention is linked to three objects at once," Dr. Halberda tells Ivanhoe.
A new study at Johns Hopkins shows color is the key to grabbing your attention. When multiple players are in one color, the brain can keep track of several at once. Volunteers viewing a series of flashing colored dots could accurately count large numbers of dots of the same color.
"All of the sudden you're able to select all, say, 70 objects in your visual scene that share that color and pay attention to all of them at once," Dr. Halberda says.
He says color-coding also comes in handy everyday because keeping things in one color helps in keeping things organized and counting items quickly. "If you want to make life simple, make things the same color. If you want to keep track of many things at once, make them be the same color."
One thing's for sure, color makes watching sports simple, even when the plays are hard.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
If you would like more information, please contact:
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Johns Hopkins University
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Santa Monica, CA 90406
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