When virtuality becomes real: Relevance of mental abilities and age in simulator adaptation and dropouts

Ergonomics. 2020 Oct;63(10):1271-1280. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2020.1778095. Epub 2020 Jun 16.


Previous studies increasingly report problems with simulator adaptation as well as dropouts. Therefore, the present study aims at better understanding these aspects by considering individual factors, such as age and mental abilities. 414 people were tested with commonly used neuropsychological measures as well as within a driving simulator which consists of a close-to-production vehicle of the compact class. In contrast to previous findings, neither a significant relationship between age and the time of adaptation nor an interaction between age and mental abilities on adaptation time could be identified. However, the time participants spent in the simulator (simulator dropout) significantly correlated with age but not with mental abilities. People who showed no adaptation spent significantly less time in the simulator, because of the occurrence of simulator sickness. Although attention was only mildly associated with the time of simulator adaptation, further research on this linkage is suggested. Practitioner summary: The study at hand clarifies the relevance of considering the process of simulator adaptation within simulator studies. However, the present findings suggest no relation between age and the time of adaptation but with simulator dropouts. Abbreviations: TMT: trail making test; LPS: leistungsprüfsystem; IOP: index of performance; ALFASY: altersgerechte fahrerassistenzsystem (Age-based Driver Assistance Systems).

Keywords: Simulator; adaptation; age; mental abilities.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention*
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Sickness / etiology
  • Virtual Reality*