Tag Archives: Ryuta Kawashima

Man and Machine; who are we becoming?

There are very few of us who think of motorcycling as a means of transport alone.

untitledAt it’s basest form the motorcycle gets us from A to B, fairly efficiently and reliably. However, for the greater majority of the bike riding community it becomes a sport, a release, a means to pass the time and indeed, comment, or an escape from the routine.

Yesterday’s post on here was about types of bikers in broad groupings. This morning my thoughts strayed to how people see and relate to themselves and each other – in a motorcycling context and as individuals.

I reckoned that very few people can actually say they ride as a means to an end. Very many are influenced to some degree by the trends and cults that bikes inspire.

But why do bikes in particular create these scenes in the human brain? Again, I think it comes back to the needs of the individual; to have a sense of self and identity. Biking rewards our dopamine sensors with pure synaptic transmissions; the inputs come thick and fast; speed, danger, wind, exposure, knowledge and skill, muscular motor balance and luck. Being on two wheels is so vastly different from four wheels that riding actually stimulates a broader number of brain areas. Not sure about this? Read about Japanese scientist Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, author of “Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?” looking at the relationship between motorcycle riding and the human mind.

BrainKawashima’s experiments involved regular riders (average age 45) and  former riders who once rode regularly but had not taken a ride for at least 10 years. Kawashima asked participants to ride on courses in different conditions while he recorded their brain activities. He found the current riders and former riders used their brains in different ways, and the current riders had a higher level of concentration because specific segments of their brains (the right hemisphere of the prefrontal lobe) was activated. He also tested how making a habit of riding  affects the brain. The test subjects 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.

The result? The use of motorcycles in everyday life improved cognitive faculties, particularly those that relate to memory and spatial reasoning capacity. An added benefit, according to the study? Participants said their stress levels had been reduced and their mental state changed for the better. This is also written up in an article on the BIC forum here.

1921_man_machineEssentially ‘scientists believe that the extra concentration needed to successfully operate a motorcycle can contribute to higher general levels of brain function, and it’s that increase in activity that’s surely a contributing factor to the appeal of the motorcycles as transportation. It’s the way a ride on a bike turns the simplest journey into a challenge to the senses that sets the motorcyclist apart from the everyday commuter. While the typical car-owning motorist is just transporting him or her self from point A to point B, the motorcyclist is actually transported into an entirely different state of consciousness .’

Riding a motorcycle is all about discovering a state of mind where the journey actually is the destination. I get this; in fact I like this!