Who are the best drivers?

Estrogen was credited with giving women this edge, the theory being that it positively influences neuronal activity in the frontal lobes, which is the area of the brain that is stimulated by tasks of attention and learning rules.

Estrogen was credited with giving women this edge, the theory being that it positively influences neuronal activity in the frontal lobes, which is the area of the brain that is stimulated by tasks of attention and learning rules.

Guys, we hate to tell you this, but women may be better drivers. Why? Because of estrogen. A recent study from the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England, reported that this female hormone gives women an edge when it comes to a number of tasks that require mental flexibility, including safe driving.

Forty-three men and women, ages 18 to 35, were given a battery of neuropsychological tests aimed at assessing such skills as spatial recognition memory, attention span, rule learning, planning and motor control. The women were far superior when it came to mental flexibility, learning rules, attention span and shifting their attention from one stimulus to another, which made it easier for them to perform everyday activities, such as driving and reading.

Even though the study did not incorporate an actual driving test, the researchers believe the results not only show that women are better behind the wheel, but also explain why girls find it so much easier to pay attention in school than boys.

Estrogen was credited with giving women this edge, the theory being that it positively influences neuronal activity in the frontal lobes, which is the area of the brain that is stimulated by tasks of attention and learning rules.

The study’s conclusions have not met with everyone’s approval. Others suggest that women have difficulty with spatial skills, such as map reading and parking, because they were exposed to too little testosterone in the womb.

It was concluded that there are many skills involved in driving: motor skills, rule learning, attention, spatial awareness and confidence. Men enjoy taking risks and have more accidents, while women generally are more cautious.

 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 1, February/March 2006.

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