Risk-taking Behaviors and Pre-frontal Cortex Activity of Male Adolescents in the Presence of Peer Passengers during Simulated Driving: A Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Study

Crash statistics show that adolescent drivers are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than adults; with the presence of peer passengers being an additional risk factor for crashes. Experimental and observational studies show that risky driving behaviors of male teenagers increase in the presence of male peer passengers. There could be several mechanisms of the influence of peer passengers on teen drivers, however it is evident that the male teenage driver with a male peer passenger makes riskier decisions than when driving alone, when driving with an adult, or when compared to an adult driver. It has been posited that the developing teenage brain's activity is different from that of adults during decision making, especially in regions associated with impulse control, response inhibition and risk taking. In order to study risk-taking behavior in simulated driving by male teenagers in the presence of male peer passengers we propose an innovative experimental approach to investigate the brain activity of male teenage and adult drivers while driving alone and in the presence of peer passengers. We propose the use of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technology, a non-invasive optical brain imaging method that allows in vivo measurements of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin in cortical tissue, to study regions in the prefrontal cortex of drivers performing an ecologically valid driving simulation task. Driving related risk-taking behaviors will simultaneously be measured. In addition, participants will undertake a well-validated computerized measure of risk taking (Balloon Analogue Risk Task) as an additional assessment of risk-taking behavior. We hypothesize that for teenagers the presence of a peer passenger while driving will show different activation in the selected brain regions associated with reward sensitivity, cognitive control, and response inhibition as compared to teenagers driving alone, and that the activation will be different for adults compared to teenagers.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $54402.00
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Research and Innovative Technology Administration

      University Transportation Centers Program
      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Principal Investigators:

      Buckley, Lisa

      Pradhan, Anuj

    • Start Date: 20140215
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20150831
    • Source Data: RiP Project 36085

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01562677
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Center for Advancing Transportation Leadership and Safety (ATLAS Center)
    • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC54
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: May 1 2015 2:51AM