Presentation: Controlling the Brain's Exposure to Alcohol in the Driving Simulator
Abstract: Alcohol studies in driving simulators are necessary precursors to effective detection of drunken driving. However, substantial and uncontrollable variation in alcohol absorption kinetics makes experimental control of breath alcohol concentration (BrAC, mg/dl) very difficult. We conducted a pilot study in the Transportation Active Safety Institute (TASI) Driving Simulator Laboratory located in the Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering (ECE) at IUPUI. The goal was to demonstrate the utility of using the Computer-assisted Alcohol Infusion System (CAIS) to control the BrAC level during simulator studies of the effects of alcohol exposure on driving performance. Correct responses on the UP/Down Arrow task provided a reliable index of intoxication. Longitudinal acceleration and engine RPM were also sensitive to impairments associated with BrAC. The scenarios varied in difficulty in the same order, NTH > NT > NA > DA, across several dependent measures.
Sean O’Connor, MD: Dr. O’Connor is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Professor of Biomedical engineering at Purdue University. He is also the Scientific Director for Human Studies at the Indiana Alcohol Research Center, and former Director of the Substance Abuse Treatment Section at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis. He was a research and development Engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft, having trained at Cornell and Yale Universities, before entering Medical School and Residency at the University of Connecticut. Dr. O’Connor moved to Indiana in 1991, and built the Neural Systems Laboratories at the University Hospital and Veterans Hospital. The labs are engaged in collaborative, federally-funded, research projects, and specialize in measuring the human brain’s response to alcohol. Current projects employ the lab’s invention of the Computer-assisted Alcohol Infusion System (CAIS) to achieve precise control of the subject’s brain exposure to alcohol. Dr. O’Connor also serves on the Board of the Transportation Active-Safety Institute, engaged in testing systems designed to detect driver impairment.
Contact: UTC Program Manager Tamar Forrest, Ph.D.
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