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Matthew I. Tofield, John P. Wann; Visual attention and processing in the elderly driver. Journal of Vision 2002;2(7):627. doi: 10.1167/2.7.627.
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The UK along with many European countries lacks a standardised test of visual attentional deficits in drivers, particularly with respect to subtle deficits. We used a semi-immersive virtual reality paradigm to identify deficits in peripheral processing and extend the concept of useful field of view (UFOV). The displays focussed upon peripheral attention, particularly with brief (90ms) episodes of relative motion, changing size, luminosity and colour.
Participants were presented with different sets of stimuli on a large video screen at 10°, 20° and 30° eccentricities and used a natural gaze response to look to the cued location. Gaze response was monitored using an ASL 5000 eye movement tracking system. Three groups were tested: Young (N=21, mean age =25.29), Middle-age (N=20, mean age =50.25), and Older drivers (N=20, mean age =70.50). We found a systematic decrease in performance with increasing age (p<.001). This was amplified for the older drivers. Of particular note was that older drivers had more difficult detecting objects that were moving on a potential collision course with their future path. The results highlight deficits in processing basic components for visual control in driving that go beyond the current UFOV tests. .The paradigms are now being piloted with individuals who have experiened a stroke (CVA) and may wish to a return to driving in order to remain mobile and independent.
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