Amnesia and Driving
Two experienced drivers who developed severe amnesia due to bilateral hippocampal lesions participated in a series of standardized challenges of driving performance and knowledge of driving rules. During drives in a high fidelity simulator and on the road in an instrumented vehicle, they demonstrated vehicle control similar to that of normal drivers on measures of steering, speed control, safety errors, and driving with distraction. Their knowledge of driving rules, safety procedures, and road sign meaning also was normal. However, both participants were impaired at following route directions, and both had unsafe responses in a difficult crash avoidance scenario on the simulator. These findings suggest that memory impairment acquired by experienced drivers does not impair most aspects of driving performance, but may increase safety risk under some challenging circumstances.