Cognitive workload and visual behavior in elderly drivers with hearing loss

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The purpose was to examine eye tracking data and compare visual behavior in individuals with normal hearing (NH) and with moderate hearing loss (HL) during two types of driving conditions: normal driving and driving while performing a secondary task.

Methods

24 participants with HL and 24 with NH were exposed to normal driving and to driving with a secondary task (observation and recall of 4 visually displayed letters). Eye movement behavior was assessed during normal driving by the following performance indicators: number of glances away from the road; mean duration of glances away from the road; maximum duration of glances away from the road; and percentage of time looking at the road. During driving with the secondary task, eye movement data were assessed in terms of number of glances to the secondary task display, mean duration of glances to the secondary task display, and maximum duration of glances to the secondary task display. The secondary task performance was assessed as well, counting the number of correct letters, the number of skipped letters, and the number of correct letters ignoring order.

Results

While driving with the secondary task, drivers with HL looked twice as often in the rear-view mirror than during normal driving and twice as often as drivers with NH regardless of condition. During secondary task, the HL group looked away from the road more frequently but for shorter durations than the NH group. Drivers with HL had fewer correct letters and more skipped letters than drivers with NH.

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