Abstract

Objective: The current study aims to examine the relationship between perceived effort and driving maintenance under various types of realistic demands (e.g., having a conversation). Of particular interest are the existence of differences between those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and healthy individuals. Method: 19 TBI individuals and 30 healthy controls were recruited and asked to complete an experimental drive using a Virtual Reality Driving Simulator (VRDS). During this drive each individual performed three tasks; one cognitive, one motor, and one requiring cognitive and motor abilities. Participants then reported the amount of effort they expended during the drive. Regression analyses were performed on two measures of driving maintenance (speed variability and lane deviation). Results: The analysis revealed that perceived effort predicted one's speed variability differently for TBI and healthy individuals during the motor task (β = .07, p = .04) and the cognitive and motor task (β = −.13, p = .01). It was also found that perceived effort was significantly associated with variability in speed during a cognitive task (β = −.02, p = .01) and during a cognitive and motor task (β = −.08, p = .01), when controlling for group. There was no significant relationship between perceived effort and lane deviation. Conclusion(s): These results suggest that one's level of perceived effort may be a good indication of their ability to maintain driving performance when asked to perform complex secondary tasks. Future studies should look to further understand the role of perception in driving maintenance behaviors, particularly in TBI populations.