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Drivers' Cognitive Distraction


  • 12.1 Introduction 171
  • 12.2 Importance of Studying Driver Distraction 172
  • 12.3 Software and Hardware 173
  • 12.4 Experiment Design and Protocol 175
  • 12.4.1 Target Population 175
  • 12.4.2 Inclusion Criteria 175
  • 12.4.3 Exclusion Criteria 175
  • 12.4.4 Sample Size Calculation 175
  • 12.4.5 Participant Recruitment 175
  • 12.4.6 Experiment Design 175
  • 12.4.7 Experiment Procedure 177
  • 12.5 EEG Data Description 178
  • 12.5.1 Experiment Data Accompanying This Book 178
  • 12.6 Relevant Papers 179

Acknowledgments 179

References 179


Driving is a complex task that requires motor and visual capabilities along with high alertness, mental planning, and memory resources. Individual differences exist corresponding to these cognitive capabilities, which are natural in human beings. In addition to individual differences, there are also other sources, such as drugs and alcohol, which significantly increase driver distraction and cause 20-80% of crashes.1 More seriously, inattention was found to be the largest factor behind all crashes and near crashes (78%), reported by Dingus et al. in a study of 100 car accidents.2

A situation during driving operation in which the driver’s attention turns away from driving toward a competing activity such as attending a cell phone call, using the navigation system and audio system, absentmindedness, daydreaming, and decision making, is known as driving distraction. These competing activities have been reported as factors in driver distraction and traffic accidents (see Ref. [3] for review). Driver distraction can be of two major types: visual distraction and cognitive distraction. The

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Designing EEG Experiments for Studying the Brain.


former (visual distraction) is the state where the driver’s eye focus is away from the track and the latter (cognitive distraction) is absentmindedness or attention deviation from the driving operation. Both of these distractions impair driving safety and affect the driver’s performance. The negative effects of cognitive distraction on visual information processing during driving have been reported by many previous studies.4-6

The focus of the experiment reported in this chapter is on drivers’ cognitive distraction. To understand drivers’ psychological behavior and sources of distraction, the electroencephalography (EEG) technique was employed. EEG signals help to study the neuronal changes occurring due to distraction during driving operation. EEG signals directly measure the neuronal changes occurring due to any distraction including driving distraction and can be quantitatively analyzed using computational techniques to determine useful information for assessment of brain dis- traction.7,8 Also, the psychological behavior can be better understood in real time during driving operation. Hence, in this study, the participants were investigated in both cognitive state and noncognitive state, in order to compare the changes occurring in EEG signals due to cognitive distraction. The following two objectives were defined for this experiment:

  • • To study the effects of cognitive distraction on drivers’ behavior and driving performance using EEG signals.
  • • To identify the specific brain regions and certain brain oscillations involved in driving operation as well as cognitive activities.
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