OPEN Scientific reports | 19 Apr 2017
H Sakai, T Ando, N Sadato and Y Uchiyama
Previous functional neuroimaging studies have identified multiple brain areas associated with distinct aspects of car driving in simulated traffic environments. Few studies, however, have examined brain morphology associated with everyday car-driving experience in real traffic. Thus, the aim of the current study was to identify gray matter volume differences between drivers and non-drivers. We collected T1-weighted structural brain images from 73 healthy young adults (36 drivers and 37 non-drivers). We performed a whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analysis to examine between-group differences in regional gray matter volume. Compared with non-drivers, drivers showed significantly greater gray matter volume in the left cerebellar hemisphere, which has been associated with cognitive rather than motor functioning. In contrast, we found no brain areas with significantly greater gray matter volume in non-drivers compared with drivers. Our findings indicate that experience with everyday car driving in real traffic is associated with greater gray matter volume in the left cerebellar hemisphere. This brain area may be involved in abilities that are critical for driving a car, but are not commonly or frequently used during other daily activities.
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