(WARREN, MI) Posit Science co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Michael Merzenich spoke today as the keynote speaker at The Eye and The Auto international conference, held at General Motors Technical Center campus. Dr. Merzenich spoke about the impact brain fitness training has on helping drivers maintain their ability to keep driving longer safely and under varied conditions. These clinically-validated results are based on two studies led by cognitive aging and driving expert Jerri D. Edwards, PhD, and recently published in The Gerontologist, a leading journal on aging issues, and in the Journals of Gerontology, Medical Sciences.
The first study, The Staying Keen in Later Life (SKILL), funded by the National Institutes of Health, included 500 healthy adults aged 60 and older. Researchers divided the participants and followed them for three years. The group of drivers who were at higher risk for an accident engaged in computer-based cognitive training exercises over five weeks for a total of ten hours. Researchers found that the high-risk drivers who did the brain fitness training lowered their risk similar to the low-risk driving control group. This high-risk group of drivers continued throughout the three years to maintain the amount they drove and improved their confidence in driving under varied conditions such as poor weather, driving at night and in high traffic.
The second study combined data from the SKILL study with the same inclusion criteria from the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study to measure driving cessation. Dr. Edwards and her team in the combined study found that brain training delays the end of driving for older drivers who have speed of processing difficulties. Prior studies have found that the interactive software exercise improved older drivers’ ability to respond quickly to driving decisions, which helped them maintain their ability to continue driving safely and with confidence.
“Science has brought us new ways to improve and extend driving,” said Dr. Edwards, assistant professor at the University of South Florida and lead author on the studies. “It does not need to be a choice between uneasiness about continued driving and negative outcomes that come from taking away the keys because we can now train older drivers to improve their driving skills.”
The brain fitness exercises used in the two studies are now commercially available to the public in a software program called DriveSharp from Posit Science. DriveSharp, which retails for $139, is recommended by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and is available from AAA auto clubs at the introductory price of $99. For more information, visit www.drivesharp.com .