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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015, Article ID 525901, 18 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/525901
Research Article

Effects of Different Types of Cognitive Training on Cognitive Function, Brain Structure, and Driving Safety in Senior Daily Drivers: A Pilot Study

1Smart Ageing International Research Center, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan
2Division of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan
3Division of Medical Neuroimage Analysis, Department of Community Medical Supports, Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan
4Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8575, Japan
5Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo 102-8472, Japan
6Research Division 2, Mobility Services Laboratory, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Kanagawa 243-0123, Japan
7CAE and Testing Division 1, Vehicle Test and Measurement Technology Development, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Kanagawa 243-0192, Japan
8Research Division 2, Prototype and Test Department, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Kanagawa 243-0123, Japan

Received 11 November 2014; Accepted 21 February 2015

Academic Editor: Laura Piccardi

Copyright © 2015 Takayuki Nozawa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Increasing proportion of the elderly in the driving population raises the importance of assuring their safety. We explored the effects of three different types of cognitive training on the cognitive function, brain structure, and driving safety of the elderly. Methods. Thirty-seven healthy elderly daily drivers were randomly assigned to one of three training groups: Group V trained in a vehicle with a newly developed onboard cognitive training program, Group P trained with a similar program but on a personal computer, and Group C trained to solve a crossword puzzle. Before and after the 8-week training period, they underwent neuropsychological tests, structural brain magnetic resonance imaging, and driving safety tests. Results. For cognitive function, only Group V showed significant improvements in processing speed and working memory. For driving safety, Group V showed significant improvements both in the driving aptitude test and in the on-road evaluations. Group P showed no significant improvements in either test, and Group C showed significant improvements in the driving aptitude but not in the on-road evaluations. Conclusion. The results support the effectiveness of the onboard training program in enhancing the elderly’s abilities to drive safely and the potential advantages of a multimodal training approach.