Driving safety for elderly: controversial study results

Lincoln Continental Mark II

Is there a way to help elderly drivers stay out of accidents?

An article in New Scientist discusses how certain kinds of brain games can help elderly drivers perform better.

The study consisted of 10 sessions of brain games (“cognitive training programs”). The elderly participants, 908 of them, were divided into four groups. Some got games relating to reaction speed, some got games on reasoning skill, and some got games that focused on memory. The fourth group received no training. The participants were then followed for 6 years using DMV records to see if there were any differences in accident rates.

The games involving reaction speed and reasoning skills lowered the accident rates by about 50% compared to the people with no training.

The memory games had no effect.

This is the first time brain games have been shown to have any effect on driving performance. The results contradict a study by Adrian Owen that showed that brain training only helped with the skills used inside the brain game, not with other life skills.

The researchers in the new study suggest that elderly people try using cognitive training programs, but only if they use ones that have been proven to work.

Exercise also helps keep the brain fit, and is recommended for seniors.

The games were developed by Posit Science of San Francisco.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ed Callow [ torquespeak ]

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