Age Related Changes in Cognitive Response Style in the Driving Task

The presence of secondary tasks in the automobile appears to be increasing among drivers of all ages. The operation of these in-vehicle devices while underway produces an increase in workload and acute stress. According the Yerks-Dodson principle, a critical balance exists between maximum task performance and an individual's stress level. An increase in heart rate, respiration rate and skin conductance level typically corresponds with an increase in workload / stress. However, recent work shows that under a dual task condition driver age impacts the probability of heart rate acceleration. This project will conduct simulated experimentation that will focus on comparing response mechanisms of the younger adults with aged drivers. We hypothesize that patterns of physiological response will vary between the younger and older group. Furthermore, the older group will better balance the focus of attention, i.e. show less cardiac acceleration. We believe that over both age groups the shift in attentional focus will not compromise a basic simulated driving task. Outcomes of this research have profound policy implications on the use of secondary devices by different age groups. Objective: In this work we plan to investigate, how everyday secondary tasks such as cellular telephones internally impact drivers of different ages, i.e. to what state do drivers of different ages internalize the stress associated with the use of secondary technology in the car. According the Yerks-Dodson principle a critical balance exists between maximum task performance and an individual's stress level. Therefore, it is critical that the stress of the driving task be high enough for individuals to maintain a high level of performance but not overwhelm the driver to the point at which performance begins to fall. Physiological measurements such as heart rate, galvanic skin resistance and respiration are often used to gauge changes in stress and workload. Cardiac acceleration, increases in galvanic skin resistance and respiration rate are often linked to acute or short duration stressors (Backs & Seljos, 1994; Veltman & Gaillard, 1998).


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Research and Innovative Technology Administration

      Department of Transportation
      1200 New Jersey Avneue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Performing Organizations:

      New England University Transportation Center

      Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 40-279
      Cambridge, MA  United States  01239
    • Principal Investigators:

      Reimer, Bryan

    • Start Date: 20060901
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20070831
    • Source Data: RiP Project 19618

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01466324
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: New England University Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: DTRS99-G-0001, MITR19-4
    • Files: UTC, RiP, USDOT
    • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:14PM