Written by Frank Cotolo
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Topics: London, England

Friday, 4 March 2005

image for London Taxi Drivers' Brains Grow from Doing Their Jobs
A typical London taxi operated by a large-brained driver.

LONDON, England -- A study in London has presented some very surprising results about the size of the rear of a London taxi driver's brain.

Due to the amount of driving the profession demands, says the study, the back of the brains of London cab drivers develop in special ways, helping them store a detailed mental map of the city among other things.

"The taxi driver brain," says Beck Oxworthy, one of the study's creators, "is back heavy. It comes from having to concentrate, during driving, many different facts, figures and invading mental images, which are sometimes pleasing, but not directly connected to the task at hand.

"In the back of his mind a driver can see an overhead map of the city and at times can count the laundry on clotheslines in the gnattier areas.

"The driver's mind can develop even more."

According to the research, drivers of the famous London black taxis--who had their brains scanned and were given free scones and tea to participate in the study--were found to have unusually large development in one area of the hippocampus; the part of the brain which deals with navigation which is critical for learning.

"One particular region of the hippocampus, the posterior or back, was bigger in the taxi drivers," researcher Stig Markup told reporters. "And some of those regions were cluttered and disorganized for all the information they harbor. We are looking into special drugs that could help put all of that data in order."

One of the "invading" pieces of information in the drivers' hippocampus are pictures of large-breasted women. Scientists say they have no idea why this particular image makes its way into this region of the brain as the region is growing but agree that seeing pictures of large-breasted women is exciting."

"I enjoy looking at those tubbs," said one scientist.

"Takes your mind offa how ugly some of 'em are, eh?" said another scientist who likes images of large-breasted women.

The scientists at the University College of London found that the hippocampus grew even more as the drivers spent longer on the job. One driver's head was so heavy from the growth of his brain's backside that he has to wear a weighted hat, which balances his head to the front.

The study, done by Oxworthy, Oxworthy, Oxworthy and Ditherbund, a research group consisting of four brothers and a cousin who are just starting out in the reseach business, is the first to concentrate on the people who work with Britain's famed taxi system.

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