Dissertation Defense - University of Houston
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Dissertation Defense

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Ashik Khatri

will defend his dissertation

Biofeedback Arrests Sympathetic and Behavioral Effects in Distracted Driving


Operating machinery while distracted is a dangerous behavior, often habitual, which is the source of accidents. Distracted driving in particular has assumed the form of an epidemic, fueled by the ubiquity of smartphone usage and the tendency to slip into absent-mindedness in tedious commutes. Here we show that a method capable of detecting and communicating overarousal trends associated with the onset of distractions, can pull the driver out of a downward psychophysiological spiral. The method is reliable, unobtrusive, and subtle in its intervention - all important characteristics for real-time corrections on human handling of critical machinery. Arousal estimation is performed by a conservative statistical filter acting upon the driver’s perinasal perspiration signal, as this is continuously extracted from a thermal imaging feed. Overarousal notices are communicated via a visual indicator placed in the driver’s peripheral vision. Using this method, we conducted a parallel group experiment, where a control (CL) and a biofeedback (BF) cohort were distracted mentally and physically while driving, with only the biofeedback group receiving the benefit of overarousal notification. Results show that heeding biofeedback notices, cuts dramatically the time BF subjects are engaged in distractions with respect to the control group, significantly reducing their arousal levels and improving their driving behaviors in the context of a typical commute.

Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Time: 2:00 PM
Place: HBS 302
Advisor: Dr. Ioannis Pavlidis

Faculty, students, and the general public are invited.