Transportation & Vehicle Safety Policy

Translating Cognitive Neuroscience to the Driver's Operational Environment: A Neuroergonomic Approach

Lees, M.N.; Cosman, J.D.; Lee, J.D.; Fricke, N.; Rizzo, M.
2010 Winter

Abstract

Neuroergonomics provides a multidisciplinary translational approach that merges elements of neuroscience, human factors, cognitive psychology, and ergonomics to study brain structure and function in everyday environments. Driving safety, particularly that of older drivers with cognitive impairments, is a fruitful application domain for neuroergonomics. Driving makes demands on multiple cognitive processes that are often studied in isolation and so presents a useful challenge in generalizing findings from controlled laboratory tasks to predict safety outcomes. Neurology and the cognitive sciences help explain the mechanisms of cognitive breakdowns that undermine driving safety. Ergonomics complements this explanation with the tools for systematically exploring the various layers of complexity that define the activity of driving. A variety of tools, such as part task simulators, driving simulators, and instrumented vehicles, provide a window into cognition in the natural settings needed to assess the generalizability of laboratory findings and can provide an array of potential interventions to increase driving safety.