2007 Volume 26 Issue 3 Pages 409-414
The purpose of this study is to investigate the difference of cerebral activity in the prefrontal region between young adults and elderly subjects during driving. The procedure of the experiment was explained to the subjects and informed consent was obtained. Fourteen young male adults (21.6±0.76 yrs), seven elderly males (69.9±4.91 yrs), and seven elderly females (66.6±6.02 yrs) volunteered as subjects for the experiments. Non-invasive measurement of regional cerebral activity was estimated by measuring the deoxygenated hemoglobin, oxygenated hemoglobin, and total hemoglobin of both sides of the prefrontal region using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and time-resolved spectroscopy (TRS). The distance to the vehicle in front, speed, and braking were recorded and the behavior of the drivers was obtained using a CCD camera and video recorder. Temperature and relative humidity in the experimental car were 23–25 degrees Centigrade and 30–40%RH respectively. Background noise in the car was 50–65 dB (A). The less experienced young adults display a greater increase in prefrontal cerebral activity than do the experienced young adults during driving. Prefrontal cerebral activity in elderly subjects is lower than that in young adults at rest and shows little variation compared with young adults during driving. Less experienced young adults and elderly males display similar behavior patterns in driving, such as not observing the door mirror carefully when changing lane. The less experienced young adults are considered to be less adapted to driving. It is possible to evaluate adaptability for driving by means of measuring cerebral hemodynamic changes while driving.