A Professor who is a pioneer in the field of monitoring the effect of driving on the human mind joins hands with Porsche to explain the benefits.
Ever thought how driving or being inside one’s vehicle affects human psychology? Prof. Lynne Pearce of English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University might have the answer for you. She has spent the last thirty years driving to her University and that has led her to think about some critical psychological aspects of the modern car and driving. Her belief is that the car serves as a place of relief, a place to muse and think. “Whenever I get into the car I feel a sense of relief. My body relaxes, and I look forward to the uninterrupted time I have to think,” she states.
Professor Pearce spent her childhood around cars and garages, being the daughter of a mechanic and garage owner in Cornwall. But having lived in NW Scotland for more than two decades now, she has racked up miles of car journeys going to and fro around the area. The experience is charred in her essay, “Driving North /Driving South” which was published in 2000, followed by “Drivetime: Literary Excursions in Automotive Consciousness” which is considered one of the pioneering works in the field. The book emphasises upon the effect long distance driving has on individuals, stating that driving as a task becomes lovable and a valuable part of daily life which exists as a time period that is reserved for own use and remains undisturbed for the most part.
There remains a school of thought that believes that while driving the only thing the human mind is capable of is driving, but the Professor disagrees. According to her despite driving being one of the challenging daily tasks which requires safety precautions and attentiveness is also one of the rare times that the human brain is capable of more complex tasks including productive thinking. The act of driving frees up parts of the brain that increases productivity she says.
“The reason we can safely day-dream, work through our thoughts, or have a conversation at the wheel is because the brain’s central executive remains alert throughout – and it will return our attention to the road in an instant as and when needed.” This is relatable to individuals as doing the same tasks becomes difficult if the driving conditions are bad or one is using a new vehicle, because the mind cannot ‘rest’ while driving during these times.
Different driving styles, locations etc lead to different results. For eg, driving through scenic landscapes would let one connect to nature while driving at speed leads to adrenaline and cruising along leads to day-dreaming and a calming sensation. The Professor refers to Joan Didion’s Play it as it Lays which shows how the freeways of Los Angeles can help with mental issues, leading to calmness giving even more proof to her study which concludes that driving gives most people a ‘time-out’ in daily life.
This study has been conducted with Porsche, as Professor Pearce drives a Cayenne Turbo S e-Hybrid from her home to Lancaster University. Driving through varying landscapes prove to be beneficial, nature heavy roads are especially suited for individuals who wish to have some calm in their lives and get away quite literally from the chaos of cities. She herself uses smaller roads which are closer to the heart of nature to get away from the monotony of the busy Scottish roads, which is enhanced by the electric drive mode which is absolutely silent through the empty roads.
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