Poster F3, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Mobile EEG in a complex driving simulation – evaluating the effect of age on cognitive states
Julian Elias Reiser1, Marlene Pacharra1, Stephan Getzmann1, Edmund Wascher1; 1Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors
The everyday task of driving a car involves a sophisticated interplay of tasks and corresponding mental activity to ensure correct responses to ongoing events. While previous studies show a depletion of driving related attentional processes with age, the neurophysiological consequences of this depletion during actual driving are unclear. In this study, the effect of age was investigated in an hour-long driving simulation. Two age groups (young 19-26, old 63-76) with 12 participants each drove along the same track in a traffic network with interconnected driving segments (German “Autobahn”, highway, city) guided by a navigation system. These segments consisted of longer monotonous periods with occasional intermitting segment-specific tasks – e.g. overtaking on the highway or turning in the city. The EEG was recorded with a bilateral, miniaturized and mobile 18-channel around-the-ear setup (cEEGrids, TMSi, NL) to reduce preparation time and mobility constraints as well as to increase ecological validity while driving. Mental states were examined over time using normalized alpha- and theta-band-power (band-power / whole power spectrum) as cognitive correlates of attention in the frequency-domain. A mixed linear model revealed a significant interaction effect between the factors age and time on task on normalized alpha- and theta-power. While remaining stable in elderly drivers, alpha- and theta-power increased over time in younger drivers. This indicates incremental attentional withdrawal in younger and a compensatory cognitive mechanism in older participants. Moreover, the data quality of the cEEGrids demonstrates the feasibility of recording EEG in real traffic environments.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Development & aging