Does driving make us less intelligent?

Credits : MatanVizel / Pixabay
Does driving make us less intelligent?
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A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed a link between driving and the loss of grey matter. 

The study

British researchers have carried out a study on a panel of 500 000 people aged between 37 and 73 who regularly took memory and intelligence tests over the last five years.

The study produced two interesting results:

  • Almost 1/5 of people who drove more than two hours per day showed reduced intellectual capacities compared to at the start of the project.
  • The cognitive functions of this same group of people continued to gradually decline compared to those who rarely drove at the start if the study.

The main aim of this study was to find a possible link between sedentary behaviors, that is to say the practice of low-energy activity while sitting or lying down, and cognitive functions. Playing video games, watching television, working on the computer and even driving can all be described as sedentary activities.

Results and assumptions

The results vary a lot depending on the sedentary activity.

It appears that driving daily for more than 2 hours and watching television for more than 3 hours have similar effects on the brain with both causing cognitive decline.

However to contradict this result, physical inactivity cannot be the only issue at play. When you work on a computer or play video games your intellectual performance is improved despite physical inactivity.

Felix Broennimann – Pixabay

It has already been proven that driving and watching television can have negative effects on the heart.  But why and how do these activities decrease our intellectual capacities?

Kishan Bakrania, researcher at the University of Leicester and author of the study formulated two contradictory hypothesis’:

  • The first theory is that when you drive your brain is in neutral. 
  • The second theory suggests that stress and tiredness caused by intense concentration provokes this cognitive decline.

Whatever causes cognitive aging, you have been warned:  too much driving could make you less intelligent!

Sources : American Journal of Epidemiology

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