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Neuropsychological Correlates of Hazard Perception in Older Adults

  • Katalina McInerney (a1) and Julie Suhr (a1)

Abstract

Objectives: Hazard perception, the ability to identify and react to hazards while driving, is of growing importance in driving research, given its strong relationship to real word driving variables. Furthermore, although poor hazard perception is associated with novice drivers, recent research suggests that it declines with advanced age. In the present study, we examined the neuropsychological correlates of hazard perception in a healthy older adult sample. Methods: A total of 68 adults age 60 and older who showed no signs of dementia and were active drivers completed a battery of neuropsychological tests as well as a hazard perception task. Tests included the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status, Wechsler Test of Adult Reading, Trail Making Test, Block Design, Useful Field of View, and the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System Color Word Interference Test. Results: Hazard perception errors were related to visuospatial/constructional skills, processing speed, memory, and executive functioning skills, with a battery of tests across these domains accounting for 36.7% of the variance in hazard perception errors. Executive functioning, particularly Trail Making Test part B, emerged as a strong predictor of hazard perception ability. Conclusions: Consistent with prior work showing the relationship of neuropsychological performance to other measures of driving ability, neuropsychological performance was associated with hazard perception skill. Future studies should examine the relationship of neuropsychological changes in adults who are showing driving impairment and/or cognitive changes associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment or dementia. (JINS, 2015, 21, 332–340)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Julie Suhr, Department of Psychology, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701. E-mail suhr@ohio.edu

References

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