We are very pleased that our latest article “Right lateralised lane keeping in young and older British drivers” was accepted last month in PLoS ONE.
Learmonth, G., Märker, G., McBride, N., Pellinen, P., & Harvey, M. (2018). Right-lateralised lane keeping in young and older British drivers. PloS one, 13(9), e0203549.
We have now quite reliably found leftward spatial biases (pseudoneglect) in young adults across a number of different lab-based tasks. We have often found that older adults have either no bias or a rightward shift in spatial attention. We were very interested to see whether these lab-based measures might also tell us something about how people perform in more “real-world” tasks, such as driving, and whether this changes as we get older.
We tested 77 right-handed adults with full, UK driving licences (i.e. experience of left-lane driving). 38 were young (mean age = 21.53) and 39 were older (mean age = 70.38). Each participant undertook 3 tests of visuospatial attention: the landmark task, line bisection task, and a simulated lane-keeping task.
In young adults, we found (as expected) leftward pseudoneglect for the landmark and line bisection tasks, and a mean lane position towards the right of lane centre. This makes sense, because if we are perceptually over-estimating the left side of space then we should compensate for this by shifting our behaviour further towards the right (see Nicholls et al. 2007, 2010, 2016, Thomas et al., 2017, Robertson et al., 2015). In addition, the leftward bias on the landmark task was negatively correlated with a lane position to the right of centre on the lane-keeping task. Conversely, older adults had no group-level spatial bias on the lab-based landmark nor the line bisection tasks, but they maintained a mean rightward lane position, similar to young adults on the driving task. The 3 tasks were not inter-correlated in the older group.
We think that these results show that older adults do continue to show spatial biases in certain conditions, and these biases might be more observable in experiments involving complex, real-world behaviours rather than abstract, lab-based measures in this group.
I would love to hear from anyone who is carrying out further research in this area,
Nicholls M, Hadgraft NT, Chapman H., Loftus AM, Robertson J, Bradshaw JL. (2010). A hit-and-miss investigation of asymmetries in wheelchair navigation. Atten Percept Psychophys. 72(7):1576–90.
Nicholls M, Jones CA, Robertson JS. Heading to the Right: The Effect of Aperture Width on Navigation Asymmetries for Miniature Remote-Controlled Vehicles. (2016). J Exp Psychol Appl. 22(2).
Nicholls M, Loftus A, Mayer K, Mattingley JB. Things that go bump in the right: The effect of unimanual activity on rightward collisions. (2007). Neuropsychologia. 45(5):1122–6.
Thomas NA, Churches O, White I, Mohr C, Schrag Y, Obucina S, et al. (2017). An investigation of left/right driving rules on deviations while walking. PLoS One. 12(10):1–11.
Robertson JS, Forte JD, Nicholls M. Deviating to the right: Using eyetracking to study the role of attention in navigation asymmetries. (2015). Atten Percept Psychophys. 77(3):830–43.