Among the multiple skills required to drive safely is the ability to visually scan one’s surroundings in order to adapt and respond to unexpected situations. In a study that compared traumatic brain injury patient to controls, subjects were connected to an eye-tracking device that mapped their visual field while completing a driving simulation.
The study found that people with traumatic brain injuries did not explore as many visual areas as the controls. Additionally, these deficits were associated with reduced scores on neuropsychological tests of attention. The study therefore provided an excellent model of how cognitive impairment translates to practical life. When making a decision to return to driving after a traumatic brain injury, neuropsychological tests of attention may be a useful tool.
Milleville-Pennel I, Pothier J, Hoc J-M, & Mathe J-F. Consequences of cognitive impairments following traumatic brain injury: Pilot study on visual exploration while driving. Brain Injury. (April 2010).