The impact of driver sleepiness on fixation-related brain potentials
Journal article, 2019

The effects of driver sleepiness are often quantified as deteriorated driving performance, increased blink durations and high levels of subjective sleepiness. Driver sleepiness has also been associated with increasing levels of electroencephalogram (EEG) power, especially in the alpha range. The present exploratory study investigated a new measure of driver sleepiness, the EEG fixation-related lambda response. Thirty young male drivers (23.6 +/- 1.7 years old) participated in a driving simulator experiment in which they drove on rural and suburban roads in simulated daylight versus darkness during both the daytime (full sleep) and night-time (sleep deprived). The results show lower lambda responses during night driving and with longer time on task, indicating that sleep deprivation and time on task cause a general decrement in cortical responsiveness to incoming visual stimuli. Levels of subjective sleepiness and line crossings were higher under the same conditions. Furthermore, results of a linear mixed-effects model showed that low lambda responses are associated with high subjective sleepiness and more line crossings. We suggest that the fixation-related lambda response can be used to investigate driving impairment induced by sleep deprivation while driving and that, after further refinement, it may be useful as an objective measure of driver sleepiness.

line crossings

driver sleepiness


fixation-related ERP

event-related potential


Christer Ahlstrom

Linköping University

The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)

Ignacio Solis-Marcos

The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)

Emma Nilsson

Volvo Cars

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Vehicle Safety

Torbjorn Akerstedt

Stockholm University

Karolinska Institutet

Journal of Sleep Research

0962-1105 (ISSN) 1365-2869 (eISSN)


Subject Categories

Infrastructure Engineering

Applied Psychology

Vehicle Engineering





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