Daily driving is a multi-faceted, real-world, behavioral measure of cognitive functioning requiring multiple cognitive domains working synergistically to complete this instrumental activity of daily living. As the global population of older adult continues to grow, motor vehicle crashes become more frequent among this demographic. Cognitive reserve (CR) is the brain’s adaptability or functional robustness despite damage, while brain reserve (BR) refers the structural, neuroanatomical resources. This study examined whether CR and BR predicted changes in adverse driving behaviors in cognitively normal older adults. Cognitively normal older adults (Clinical Dementia Rating 0) were enrolled from longitudinal studies at the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University. Participants (n = 186) were ≥65 years of age, required to have Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data, neuropsychological testing data, and at least one full year of naturalistic driving data prior to the beginning of COVID-19 lockdown in the United States (March 2020) as measured by Driving Real World In-vehicle Evaluation System (DRIVES). Findings suggest numerous changes in driving behaviors over time were predicted by increased hippocampal and whole brain atrophy, as well as lower CR scores as proxied by the Wide Range Achievement Test 4. These changes indicate that those with lower BR and CR are more likely to reduce their driving exposure and limit trips as they age and may be more likely to avoid highways where speeding and aggressive maneuvers frequently occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1076735
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 23 2022


  • aging
  • brain reserve
  • cognitive reserve
  • driving (veh)
  • older (elderly) drivers


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