Driving with Intuition: A Preregistered Study about the EEG Anticipation of Simulated Random Car Accidents.

Research paper by Gian Marco GM Duma, Giovanni G Mento, Tommaso T Manari, Massimiliano M Martinelli, Patrizio P Tressoldi

Indexed on: 20 Jan '17Published on: 20 Jan '17Published in: PloS one


The study of neural pre-stimulus or "anticipatory" activity opened a new window for understanding how the brain actively constructs the forthcoming reality. Usually, experimental paradigms designed to study anticipatory activity make use of stimuli. The purpose of the present study is to expand the study of neural anticipatory activity upon the temporal occurrence of dichotomic, statistically unpredictable (random) stimuli within an ecological experimental paradigm. To this purpose, we used a simplified driving simulation including two possible, randomly-presented trial types: a car crash end trial and a no car crash end trial. Event Related Potentials (ERP) were extracted -3,000 ms before stimulus onset. We identified a fronto-central negativity starting around 1,000 ms before car crash presentation. By contrast, a whole-scalp distributed positivity characterized the anticipatory activity observed before the end of the trial in the no car crash end condition. The present data are in line with the hypothesis that the brain may also anticipate dichotomic, statistically unpredictable stimuli, relaying onto different pre-stimulus ERP activity. Possible integration with car-smart-systems is also suggested.