Which brain regions make us more likely to be more driven?
A recent study by researchers at the University of Adelaide has revealed that certain brain regions are more linked to driving than others.
The research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reveals that the hippocampus, which has been linked to the regulation of emotions, and the amygdala, which plays a role in fear and aggression, are more involved in driving.
“It’s a very, very simple, really simple brain function,” Dr Mark Cengage, a neuroscientist at the university’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, said.
“You need to understand the brain to really understand the behaviour of a person.”
And, because of this, the hippocampus is one of the places that’s particularly important for driving, because it’s associated with our emotional reactions.
“Dr Cengate and his team, which included Australian researchers, spent years studying the brains of road accident victims and found that the brain’s emotional centres were involved in the decision-making processes involved in decisions to drive.”
We found that there are two areas in the brain, which we think of as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex,” Dr Cengag said.”[The hippocampus] is involved in emotion regulation, the regulation in our emotion centres.
“Dr Mandy Lenton, who co-led the study, said the hippocampus had previously been thought to be involved in emotional regulation.”
The hippocampus has been a focus of research, because people often think that emotion regulation is only at the amygdala,” she said.
But the team found that these regions of the brain also show significant activity when they are stimulated by driving, even when it was in a safe environment.”
They were stimulated in the same way that we were stimulated when driving in a motorised environment,” Dr Lenton said.
Dr Cenag said it was not clear whether these regions are the same for everyone, but the study revealed that they were involved more in driving when they were stimulated, compared to when they weren’t.”
There are several areas in our brain, including the amygdala and the hippocampus that are important for emotional regulation,” Dr Sjolvik said.
There is evidence that the amygdala plays a critical role in regulating our emotions, particularly our fear responses.”
Our results show that the activity of these areas is associated with driving in an unexpected way, and that this is in a way similar to other behavioural changes we have seen in people with depression,” Dr Tarkowski said.
The study was funded by the Australian Research Council, the Australian National University and the Australian Medical Research Council.