Driving needs our attention and focus. It’s a complex task that involves different parts of our brain. That is why to be able to drive, your brain has to be healthy. This statement was the starting point in a recent study. The researchers came up with the algorithms based on the combined information of the driving behaviour and the demographic characteristics (such as age, sex, race/ethnicity and education level) to predict mild cognitive decline and dementia with the accuracy of 88%!

The driving behaviour was obtained by recording information through in-vehicle devices from 2.977 participants aged 65-79 years during 4 years time. This information was then analyzed to measure driving exposure, space and performance in details using 29 indicators.

The researchers explored various combinations of information through machine learning models for detecting mild cognitive impairment/dementia. They found that the model based on driving indicators and demographic characteristics was much better than models based on demographic characteristics only (29% of the accuracy) and driving variables only (66%).

Further analysis revealed that age was most predictive of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, followed by the percentage of trips traveled within 15 miles of home, race/ethnicity, minutes per trip chain (i.e., length of trips starting and ending at home), minutes per trip, and number of hard braking events with deceleration rates ≥ 0.35 g.

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Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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