Barbara graduated from NUI Maynooth with a BA in psychology following a number of years in commercial industry and is currently a PhD student in the School of Applied Psychology. Her research is looking at aspects of cognition that are vital for safe driving that are typically impaired following brain injury e.g. attention, memory, learning, judgement, decision making, planning, information processing speed, visual spatial skills. She aims to identify a battery of cognitive tests that can successfully discriminate between safe and unsafe drivers. In Ireland at present there is no definitive test or protocol established, so the return to driving following brain injury is subject to ad hoc medical assessments and patient non-disclosure. Ultimately this presents a dilemma as a driver with an impairment not affecting their driving ability may be refused clearance whilst an unsafe driver could return to the road.
To address this issue Barbara is developing a model of driving assessment that will discriminate between safe, safe following rehabilitation and unsafe drivers. It will include an assessment of cognitive ability as well as driving ability in a driving simulator and on the road.
The Road Safety Authority of Ireland funds this research.
Barbara’s wider interests lie in applied cognitive psychology, with emphasis on attention and memory and the impact of cognitive load, ageing and brain injury.