Conference Proceeding

Magnetoencephalography during Simulated Driving: A New Paradigm for Driver Assessment

  • Elizabeth Walshe (Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Flaura K Winston (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
  • Chelsea Ward McIntosh (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
  • Dan Romer (Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Timothy Roberts (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
  • William Gaetz (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)


Increasingly, vehicles are equipped with assistive devices and advanced warning systems to mitigate driver errors, which account for 94% of motor vehicle crashes. However, these technologies require humans to appropriately respond or take over the vehicle. If we want to design effective aids, we need to better understand the neural mechanisms underlying driver error and test how the brain responds to countermeasures. For this, we need sensitive measures of brain activity during driving. This paper present a new paradigm for driver assessment, using magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recording of whole cortex neural oscillatory activity while participants undergo an ecologicallyrelevant simulated driving experience of graded complexity. A pilot experiment set out to demonstrate that expected and motor cortex responses to basic drivingrelated movements (without salient cues) could be recorded, without significant artifact. Following this, a preliminary study of adults (n=5) explored if additional cognitive neural responses to increasing driving task demands can be identified. This paradigm was successfully piloted and preliminary results reveal localized brain regions of expected motor cortex activity, as well as power increases in the frontal lobe. This paradigm can be used to identify not only the neural mechanisms underlying driver errors, but also measure the impact of assistive and alert/warning technologies on these mechanisms in both typical and impaired populations of drivers.

How to Cite:

Walshe, E. & Winston, F. & McIntosh, C. & Romer, D. & Roberts, T. & Gaetz, W., (2019) “Magnetoencephalography during Simulated Driving: A New Paradigm for Driver Assessment”, Driving Assessment Conference 10(2019), 182-188. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2019 the author(s)

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Published on
26 Jun 2019
Peer Reviewed