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Transportation Research Institute (IMOB) : project R-5900

Title : Driving the Future : The relation between driving and prospective memory in adults with autism spectrum disorder. (R-5900)
Abstract: Difficulties with autonomy impact several quality-of-life outcomes in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Driving is an important step towards gaining autonomy by allowing the development and maintenance of work- and social-related contacts. Nonetheless, people with ASD depend highly on friends and family for their transportation needs. The relation between ASD and driving has been received little attention in current research. Nonetheless, due to the complexity of the driving task specific ASD characteristics might interfere negatively with driving. Due to the nature of the driving task, especially prospective memory (PM) is thought to interfere negatively with driving. PM is the ability to remember to carry out intended actions in the future while being engaged in other ongoing activities. Two subtypes of PM are event-based PM (EBPM) and time-based PM (TBPM). The former refers to the execution of intentions at certain events (i.e., prospective cues), the latter refers to the execution of intentions at certain times. This project aims to investigate PM (i.e., EBPM and TBPM) as an underlying mechanism of driving in adults with ASD in two driving simulator studies. Underlying processes of PM performance will also be investigated. Eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) measures allow a detailed assessment of PM processing. In a first study, a pc-based 'virtual reality (VR) city task' will be translated to a driving simulator environment. This study aims to compare PM performance in a driving-related task of adults with ASD and adults without ASD. Non-invasive techniques (i.e., eye-tracking and EEG) will be used in 5 order to determine underlying processes of PM performance. The influence of several cognitive abilities, from which the importance is indicated in previous literature, will also be investigated. In a second study, performance on the 'VR city task' will be related to general traffic -safety-related driving measures. Eye tracking measures are included to allow a detailed analysis of hazard perception. Only cognitive measures shown to influence the relation between ASD, PM and driving in the first study are included in the second study. The focus on underlying mechanisms of driving (i.e., PM and cognitive abilities) in people with ASD allows recommendations for future research, possible driver assessment measures and driver training programs. Hereby we hope to increasing the driving abilities of adults with ASD, and therefore increase autonomy.
Period of project : 1/09/2015to31/08/2016

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