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Mind-wandering tends to occur under low perceptual demands during driving
Even when a driver is alert and in the absence of external distractions fluctuations in attention are inevitable. Such fluctuations, often referred to as mind-wandering, impair drivers’ ability to maintain consistent speed and lane integrity and respond to emergency situations and is likely a contributing factor in more than half of all car crashes. We posit that changes in driving task demand may promote a shift of brain activity between these two modes of processing. Furthermore, fluctuations in performance during driving may be related to fluctuations in internal and external attentional states associated with dynamic changes in functional coupling between the brain’s default and task-positive networks.
Kinesthesia in a sustained-attention driving task
This study investigated the effects of kinesthetic stimuli on brain activities during a sustained-attention task in an immersive driving simulator. In contrast to the static environment with visual input only, kinesthetic feedback reduced theta-power augmentation in the central and frontal components when preparing for action and error monitoring, while strengthening alpha suppression in the central component while steering the wheel. In terms of behavior, subjects tended to have a short response time to process unexpected events with the assistance of kinesthesia, yet only when their performance was optimal. Decrease in attentional demand, facilitated by kinesthetic feedback, eventually significantly increased the reaction time in the suboptimal-performance state.
Neuroimage 2014 [full article]