The experience of sitting in traffic for hours a day can feel like it’s sucking your brain away. Researchers are now saying that this isn’t just a feeling, but actually true.
Kishan Bakrania, a medical epidemiologist at the University of Leicester, told The Sunday Times, “We know that regularly driving for more than two to three hours a day is bad for your heart. This research suggests it is bad for your brain, too, perhaps because your mind is less active in those hours.”
The British study focused on 500,000 people between the ages of 37 and 73 who took intelligence and memory tests throughout the five years of the study. Among them, 93,000 drove more than two or three hours per day. At the beginning of the study, their IQ scores were lower than participants who drove very little or not at all. Their scores fell even further throughout the duration of the study.
“Cognitive decline is measurable over five years because it can happen fast in middle-aged and older people,” Bakrania told The Sunday Times. “This is associated with lifestyle factors such as smoking and bad diet—and now with time spent driving.”
Could modern cars, which are highly insulated from the outside world and almost drive themselves, be responsible for turning the experience of driving into something resembling watching TV, as far as your mind is concerned? Perhaps everyone should start driving Miatas instead. That should snap people out of their traffic-induced comas.
All is not lost, however. The study also revealed that using a computer, either for work or to play games, actually increased cognitive abilities. “Cognitive skills were boosted in people who used computers up to two to three hours a day,” said Bakrania. “When watching TV, your brain is less active but using a computer is stimulating.” Clearly, you should keep reading this web site because computer use makes you smarter.