Regional Gray Matter Volume Identifies High Risk of Unsafe Driving in Healthy Older People

Yasuharu Yamamoto, Bun Yamagata, Jinichi Hirano, Ryo Ueda, Hiroshi Yoshitake, Kazuno Negishi, Mika Yamagishi, Mariko Kimura, Kei Kamiya, Motoki Shino, Masaru Mimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In developed countries, the number of traffic accidents caused by older drivers is increasing. Approximately half of the older drivers who cause fatal accidents are cognitively normal. Thus, it is important to identify older drivers who are cognitively normal but at high risk of causing fatal traffic accidents. However, no standardized method for assessing the driving ability of older drivers has been established. We aimed to establish an objective assessment of driving ability and to clarify the neural basis of unsafe driving in healthy older people. We enrolled 32 healthy older individuals aged over 65 years and classified unsafe drivers using an on-road driving test. We then utilized a machine learning approach to distinguish unsafe drivers from safe drivers based on clinical features and gray matter volume data. Twenty-one participants were classified as safe drivers and 11 participants as unsafe drivers. A linear support vector machine classifier successfully distinguished unsafe drivers from safe drivers with 87.5% accuracy (sensitivity of 63.6% and specificity of 100%). Five parameters (age and gray matter volume in four cortical regions, including the left superior part of the precentral sulcus, the left sulcus intermedius primus [of Jensen], the right orbital part of the inferior frontal gyrus, and the right superior frontal sulcus), were consistently selected as features for the final classification model. Our findings indicate that the cortical regions implicated in voluntary orienting of attention, decision making, and working memory may constitute the essential neural basis of driving behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number592979
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 3


  • gray matter volume
  • healthy older people
  • machine learning
  • on-road driving
  • support vector machine
  • unsafe driving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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