Slower adaptation to driving simulator and simulator sickness in older adults

ArticleinAging - Clinical and Experimental Research 24(3):285-9 · June 2012with53 Reads
Impact Factor: 1.22 · Source: PubMed


    Methods of assessing driving abilities in the elderly are urgently needed. Although the driving simulator (DS) appears to be a safe and cost-effective method of objectively evaluating driving performance, it may pose adaptation problems for elderly adults. In this study, we examined age-related adaptation deficits on the DS.
    Healthy young adults (n=15) and healthy elderly persons (n=17) completed some neuropsychological tests, and then performed a road-tracking task with the DS, which was repeated four times (Trials 1-4).
    After simulated driving in DS, simulator sickness (SS) was observed in 18.8% of participants. The frequency of SS was 29.4% in elderly adults and 6.7% in young adults, and 17.6% of the elderly participants dropped out of the experiment. Performance on the Necker cube copying task was significantly correlated with the onset of SS. Driving performance also showed a significant interaction between group and trial, for both driving accuracy and vehicle speed. In addition, the performance of elderly adults significantly improved between trials 1 and 4, reaching a plateau in trial 4, whereas that of young adults did not change across trials.
    This study provides preliminary evidence of slower adaptation to a DS-based driving task by older adults, which was associated with cognitive aging. Age affected driving accuracy and velocity when a road-tracking task was simply repeated. It is concluded that the capacity of elderly people to adapt to DS environments should be taken into consideration when evaluating their performance on DS tasks.