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Title: Skill learning : brain systems, eye movements, ageing, and driver behaviour
Author: Mills, Jennifer Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 0623
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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The aim of this thesis is to investigate the mechanisms of skill acquisition and the impact of aging on these processes in the laboratory and during driving. This has a range of applications, including training older drivers to decrease their crash risk. Methods used include functional magnetic resonance imaging, eye tracking and driving simulation. Chapter 2 investigates the neural mechanisms that support the cognitive control of eye movements during visual sequence learning. Areas of the cerebellum that communicate with the prefrontal cortex showed activity changes that corresponded with performance increases as subjects became better at rehearsing information in working memory. Chapters 3 and 4 investigate the effects of ageing on visual skill learning. Using a novel spatial Stroop paradigm, Chapter 3 shows that in the face of conflicting information, performance decreases in older but not younger subjects. Chapter 4 uses an oculomotor adaptation of the Useful Field of Vision test, which examines the amount of information extracted from central and peripheral vision. Accuracy on a central visual task decreased as a concurrent peripheral visual task was conducted at higher radial eccentricities. Performance on the task conducted in central vision was significantly worse in older than younger subjects when the peripheral task was at the furthest distance. The effects of route familiarity on driving are explored in Chapter 5. Results show that driver behaviour can be performed earlier, and with less hesitation in familiar environments. Younger drivers benefitted from this more than older drivers. Hazard perception skill was facilitated by increased familiarity with an environment. This thesis reports the effects of practice on the cognitive control of eye movements during laboratory and real-world settings, and shows that they become increasingly skilled, probably supported by processes in the cerebellum. It also shows that the ability to acquire these skills reduces with age.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cerebellum ; Learning ; Ageing ; Driving