The driving performance of individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is suboptimal when compared to healthy older adults. It is expected that the driving will worsen with the progression of the cognitive decline and thus, whether or not these individuals should continue to drive is a matter of debate. The aim of the study was to provide support to the claim that individuals with MCI can benefit from a training program and improve their overall driving performance in a driving simulator. Fifteen older drivers with MCI participated in five training sessions in a simulator (over a 21-day period) and in a 6-month recall session. During training, they received automated auditory feedback on their performance when an error was noted about various maneuvers known to be suboptimal in MCI individuals (for instance, weaving, omitting to indicate a lane change, to verify a blind spot, or to engage in a visual search before crossing an intersection). The number of errors was compiled for eight different maneuvers for all sessions. For the initial five sessions, a gradual and significant decrease in the number of errors was observed, indicating learning and safer driving. The level of performance, however, was not maintained at the 6-month recall session. Nevertheless, the initial learning observed opens up possibilities to undertake more regular interventions to maintain driving skills and safe driving in MCI individuals.
Keywords: MCI; driving; learning; retention; training.