Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain can't cope with making a left-hand turn and talking on hands-free cell phone

Date:
February 28, 2013
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
Summary:
Most serious traffic accidents occur when drivers are making a left-hand turn at a busy intersection. When those drivers are also talking on a hands-free cell phone, "that could be the most dangerous thing they ever do on the road," said an expert.

Most serious traffic accidents occur when drivers are making a left-hand turn at a busy intersection. When those drivers are also talking on a hands-free cell phone, "that could be the most dangerous thing they ever do on the road," said Dr. Tom Schweizer, a researcher at St. Michael's Hospital.

Researchers led by Dr. Schweizer tested healthy young drivers operating a novel driving simulator equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal and accelerator inside a high-powered functional MRI. All previous studies on distracted driving have used just a joy-stick or trackball or else patients passively watching scenarios on a screen.

Immersing a driving simulator with a fully functional steering wheel and pedals in an MRI at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre allowed researchers to map in real time which parts of the brain were activated or deactivated as the simulator took them through increasingly difficult driving maneuvers.

The researchers were able to show for the first time that making a left-hand turn requires a huge amount of brain activation and involves far more areas of the brain than driving on a straight road or other maneuvers.

When the drivers were also involved in a conversation, the part of the brain that controls vision significantly reduced its activity as the part that controls monitoring a conversation and attention was activated.

The research was published February 28 online in the open access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

"Visually, a left-hand turn is quite demanding," Dr. Schweizer said. "You have to look at oncoming traffic, pedestrians and lights, and coordinate all that. Add talking on a cell phone, and your visual area shuts down significantly, which obviously is key to performing the maneuver."

The simulation had the drivers making six left turns with oncoming traffic, which required them to decide when to turn safely. It then distracted them, by making them answer a series of true-false audio questions, such as "Does a triangle have four sides?" The MRIs showed that blood moved from the visual cortex, which controls sight, to the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making.

"Brain activity shifted dramatically from the posterior, visual and spatial areas [of the brain] to the prefrontal cortex," said Dr. Schweizer, a neuroscientist and director of the Neuroscience Research Program at the hospital's Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

"This study provides real-time neuroimaging evidence supporting previous behavioural observations suggesting that multitasking while driving may compromise vision and alertness. 'Hands free' not does mean 'brains free.'"

Dr. Schweizer said his study needed to be replicated in larger groups and with various age groups and with people with known brain impairments such as Alzheimer's disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tom A. Schweizer, Karen Kan, Yuwen Hung, Fred Tam, Gary Naglie, and Simon J. Graham. Brain activity during driving with distraction: an immersive fMRI study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 28 February 2013 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00053

Cite This Page:

St. Michael's Hospital. "Brain can't cope with making a left-hand turn and talking on hands-free cell phone." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130228124142.htm>.
St. Michael's Hospital. (2013, February 28). Brain can't cope with making a left-hand turn and talking on hands-free cell phone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130228124142.htm
St. Michael's Hospital. "Brain can't cope with making a left-hand turn and talking on hands-free cell phone." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130228124142.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. 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