Cognitive performance and driving behaviour in older adults

The objective of this study is to better understand how cognitive performance and aging influence individual driving behavior and traffic-related risks. We have developed a dynamic, computer-based test battery to measure driving-relevant cognitive and motivational competences such as processing speed, decision making, anticipation of speed, and motion perception. The test and the human-machine interface are specifically developed for elderly people and the system is intended to serve as a screening tool to assess driving-relevant cognitive performance. In a study of 100 participants, we could show good correlation between the new computer-based tests, accident history and simulated driving performance. For that purpose, a commercially available driving simulator has been modified to study simulated driving behavior of elderly drivers while measuring neurophysiological parameters (e.g. eye movements, skin conductance). Based on these findings, we intend to derive cognitive training schemes that help older people to maintain driving relevant cognitive skills as long as possible. This project is funded in part by the “Fonds für Verkehrssicherheit”.

High-fidelity fixed-frame driving simulator with a younger test subject. The image shows the steering wheel, the cockpit, and parts of two projection screens with the presentation of the virtual driving screen.