Backward Brain Bicycle Illustrates Ingrained Human Biases, Habits

By: | July 7th, 2015


Backward-Brain-Bicycle (Image Courtesy

Learning to Ride a Backward Brain Bicycle

Learning to ride a bike is difficult for most people but with a little practice we enjoy a lifetime of fast and nearly effortless fun or rejuvenating exercise. Our ability to learn most anything is similar to learning how to ride a bike; once we have the knack, it’s easy to pick it up again. However, what if we are thrown a “curveball” where the algorithm we’ve learned is changed slightly? What if we have to ride a “backward brain bicycle.”

Destin Sandlin from Smarter Everyday had a unique experience when welder friends introduced him to a bicycle with a new set of gears in the handlebars so that the front wheel turned in the direction opposite of what was expected. Learning to ride a bike amounts to memorizing an algorithm of movement, balance and vision. But with deeply ingrained experience of riding a bike developed over decades Destin was unable to ride the modified bike competently for eight full months. His son, a seven-year-old with greater brain plasticity, was able to learn to ride the modified bike in a couple of weeks.

Sandlin, an engineer, regularly gives talks associated with Smarter Everyday and he began offering $200 to anyone who could ride the modified bike a mere 15 feet and no one has been able to do it yet.

The following video shows Sandlinl’s project and results!

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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