Risk-taking on the road and in the mind: behavioural and neural patterns of decision making between risky and safe drivers

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Ba, Y ; Zhang, W ; Peng, Q ; Salvendy, G ; Crundall, D (2016)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis for the Chartered Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1056236
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: human activities

Objective: Drivers’ risk tendency is a key issue of on-road safety. The purpose of the present study was to explore individual differences in drivers’ decision-making processes, linking external behaviors to internal neural activity, to reveal the cognitive mechanisms of on-road risky behaviors. Methods: Twenty-four male drivers were split into two groups (risky versus safe drivers) by their self-reported risky driving, measured by the Driving Behavior Questionnaire (DBQ). To assess the drivers’ behavioral and neural patterns of decision-making, two psychological paradigms were adopted: the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). The performance of each task and corresponding Event Related Potentials (ERPs) evoked by feedback were recorded. Results: In IGT, both driver groups demonstrated similar capacities to realize the advantage choices (decks with larger expected rewards) through long-term selection-feedback process. However, the risky drivers showed higher preference for the risky choices (decks with identical expected rewards but larger variances) than the safe drivers. In BART, the risky drivers demonstrated higher adjusted pumps than that of the safe drivers, especially for the trials following previous negative feedback. More importantly, the risky drivers showed lower amplitudes of Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN) after negative feedbacks, as well as the lower amplitudes of loss-minus-gain FRN, in both paradigms. The significant between-group difference of P300 amplitudes was also reported, which was modified by specific paradigms and according feedbacks. Conclusion: The drivers’ on-road behaviors were determined by the cognitive process, indicated by the behavioral and neural patterns of decision-making. The risky drivers were relatively less error-revised and more reward-motivated, which were associated with the according neural processing of error-detection and reward-evaluation. In this light, it is feasible to quantize divers’ risk tendency in the cognitive stage before actual risky driving or traffic accidents, and intervene accordingly.
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    This study was supported jointly by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant number 71371103 and 31271100, and the Open Funding Project of National Key Laboratory of Human Factors Engineering, under grant number HF2013-K-04.

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