MOTORCYCLES MAKE YOU SMARTER:
JAPANESE STUDY DISCOVERS A LINK BETWEEN RIDING AND THINKING
According to Kyodo News International:
A Tohoku University, Japan, study group and motorcycle maker Yamaha Motor Co. said Wednesday they have found riding motorcycles useful for brain training.
The group, led by Ryuta Kawashima, a professor who is known for brain research, looked into brain functions as measured by devices put on the heads of 21 males riding motorcycles and found their brains' prefrontal areas activated. The area covers memory, information processing and concentration functions.
In another test, 22 males who had motorcycle licenses, but did not ride motorcycles often, were divided into two teams -- one for riding motorcycles for two months and the other abstaining from riding. The motorcycle-riding team demonstrated improvements in memory, space recognition and other functions of the prefrontal area.
The study group said past research data have indicated the prefrontal area does not work as much when driving an automobile.
"Balancing and other sensitive control functions are required for riding motorcycles," said Kawashima. "Any motorcycle rider's brain may become more tense in order to process information actively during riding." Riding motorcycles helps keep drivers young by invigorating their brains, the scientist said Wednesday, citing a new scientific study.
"The driver's brain gets activated by riding motorbikes" in part because it requires heightened alertness, Ryuta Kawashima said after his research team and Yamaha Motor conducted a string of experiments involving middle-aged men.
"The group that rode motorbikes posted higher marks in cognitive function tests," Kawashima said.
In one test, which required the men to remember a set of numbers in reverse order, the riders' scores jumped by more than 50 percent in two months, while the non-riders' marks deteriorated slightly, he said.
The riders also said they made fewer mistakes at work and felt happier.
"Mental care is a very big issue in modern society," said Kawashima. "I think we made an interesting stir here as data showed you can improve your mental condition simply by using motorbikes to commute."
"In a convenient and easy environment, the human mind and body get used to setting the hurdle low," he warned. "Our final conclusion is that riding motorcycles can lead to smart aging."
Kawashima is the designer of "Brain Training" software, which incorporates quizzes and other games and is available on the Nintendo DS game console under the name "Brain Age" in North America.