Riding a Motorcycle Makes You Smarter, Not Just Sexier

I ride my motorcycle to work nearly every day. I have two main reasons for doing so: I can ride in the HOV lane (a major convenience here in the ATL) and because it’s just fun. Turns out I also may be turning into an evil genius with a dangerous amount of mental processing power. Researchers found that motorcycling doesn’t just make you more attractive, but also actually smarter

Dr. Ryutu Kawashima of the University of Tokyo recently conducted experiments comparing current riders who currently rode motorcycles on a regular basis with ex-riders who once rode regularly but had not taken a ride for 10 years or more. Kawashima asked the participants to ride on courses in different conditions while he recorded their brain activities. The eight courses included a series of curves, poor road conditions, steep hills, hair-pin turns and a variety of other challenges.

What did he find? After an analysis of the data, Kawashima found that the current riders and ex-riders used their brain in radically different ways. When the current riders rode motorcycles, specific segments of their brains (the right hemisphere of the prefrontal lobe) was activated and riders demonstrated a higher level of concentration.

His next experiment was a test of how making a habit of riding a motorcycle affects the brain.

Trial subjects were otherwise healthy people who had not ridden for 10 years or more. Over the course of a couple of months, those riders used a  motorcycle for their daily commute and in other everyday situations while Dr Kawashima and his team studied how their brains and mental health changed.

The upshot was that the use of motorcycles in everyday life improved cognitive faculties, particularly those that relate to memory and spatial reasoning capacity. An added benefit? Participants revealed on questionnaires they filled out at the end of the study that their stress levels had been reduced and their mental state changed for the better.

Sounds about right to me! Also, driving your steel cage car will bring you none of these mental superpowers. Sorry car drivers.

So why motorcycles? Shouldn’t driving a car should have the same effect as riding a motorcycle?

“There were many studies done on driving cars in the past,” Kawashima said. “A car is a comfortable machine which does not activate our brains. It only happens when going across a railway crossing or when a person jumps in front of us. By using motorcycles more in our life, we can have positive effects on our brains and minds”.

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