Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Driven to distraction: New study shows driving hinders talking

Date:
January 25, 2010
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
It is well known that having a conversation (for example on a cell phone) impairs one's driving. A new study indicates the reverse is also true: Driving reduces one's ability to comprehend and use language.

It is well known that having a conversation (for example on a cell phone) impairs one's driving. A new study indicates the reverse is also true: Driving reduces one's ability to comprehend and use language.

The findings, from researchers at the University of Illinois, appear in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

This is the first study to find that driving impairs language skills, said Gary Dell, a psycholinguist in the department of psychology at Illinois and corresponding author on the study. Two previous studies had reported that driving did not impair the accuracy and comprehension of speech.

"The previous findings made no sense to those of us who have studied language," Dell said. "You might think that talking is an easy thing to do and that comprehending language is easy. But it's not. Speech production and speech comprehension are attention-demanding activities, and so they ought to compete with other tasks that require your attention -- like driving."

The new study was conducted in a driving simulator at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois. The participants worked in pairs -- one as a driver and the other as a conversation partner who was either in the simulator with the driver or talking with the driver via a hands-free cell phone from a remote location. Half of the 96 participants were adults over the age of 65 and half were in their late teens and early 20s.

Participants either sat in an unmoving vehicle or navigated through busy urban traffic while listening to, and then retelling, a brief story that they had never heard before. Using a headphone and a microphone, each participant heard and retold four stories. After leaving the simulator, all participants were asked to recall everything that they remembered about the stories.

As the researchers expected, a participant's ability to remember and retell a story declined significantly if he or she was also driving during the exercise. The older subjects performed more poorly on these tasks to begin with, and their ability to retain and retell the stories worsened as much as that of their younger peers.

In contrast to their performance while sitting still, Dell said, "the drivers remembered 20 percent less of what was told to them when they were driving." Declines in the accuracy of retelling the stories were most pronounced while drivers navigated through intersections or encountered more demanding traffic conditions.

"This study shows that various aspects of language go to hell when you're driving," said psychology professor Art Kramer, who collaborated on the study.

The study reflects the tradeoffs that occur when people try to communicate while performing other tasks, Dell said. "The relative balance of attention to any two tasks is going to vary," he said. "And perhaps we don't understand one another as well as we should because of this. With modern technology, we're talking more and more while we are doing other things, but we may be understanding one another less and less."

A researcher from Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting also contributed to the study. The National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health supported this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Driven to distraction: New study shows driving hinders talking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122222222.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2010, January 25). Driven to distraction: New study shows driving hinders talking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122222222.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Driven to distraction: New study shows driving hinders talking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100122222222.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Sleeping, Anxiety Pills Linked To Alzheimer's

Common Sleeping, Anxiety Pills Linked To Alzheimer's

Newsy (Sep. 10, 2014) Researchers found commonly prescribed sleeping and anxiety pills such as Xanax and Valium could lead to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins