Screening :: Can functional imaging be used as a tool for screening driving safety in seniors?

By 2030 more than 40 million senior drivers over the age of 65 will be traveling the streets and highways of our nation.

Unfortunately, drivers over the age of 65 have the second highest accident and motor vehicle death rate of any driver except teens.

In addition, increasing numbers of older adults will suffer from Alzheimer?s disease and other memory disorders. However, there is no universally accepted standard for testing and verifying the older drivers? ability to safely operate his or her motor vehicle, short of an on-road driving test.

Researchers propose that functional neuroimaging utilizing MRI imaging technology may be one way to evaluate the older driver in a uniform and standardized manner. Brain activation response while watching a driving video in an MRI scanner may be one way to determine, in a safe, controlled environment whether the older driver has the physiologic capability to respond to hazardous situations presented on a driving video. In this study, the cognitive components related to driving and detecting road hazards were evaluated. The findings identified distinct brain regions that are associated with the recognition of a hazard. The assessment of activity in these areas could be a way, in the future, to screen senior drivers who are capable or not of driving safely.

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