Have you ever heard your cell phone go off while you were driving and taken your eyes off the road to look for it? Through her internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this summer, Psychology major Kayla Sansevere ’20 is researching why teens experience distracted driving, which the Center for Disease Control ranks as the leading cause of death for adolescents.
During the 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates program, Sansevere will work with a team using fMRIs and driving simulations to explore the cognitive science and neurophysiology of distracted driving in teens.
“I want to see why teens are dying at such a high rate from distracted driving,” said Sansevere, referring specifically to cell phone use while driving. “We’ll look at questions like, where do people's’ attentions go when their phones ring? What areas of the brain activate?”
One of the measures to answer these questions is eye tracking when a cell phone rings, which can tell researchers more about the automatic responses of test subjects. Sansevere hopes that these tests might lead to a topic for her thesis next year.
“I want to pursue social neuroscience,” said Sansevere. “This research is really relatable to me, and will provide an opportunity to do work that is beyond the University level. I think this will give me an edge when applying to grad schools.”
Sansevere is a research assistant at the Attention, Memory and Cognition Laboratory with Dr. Katherine Moore, assistant professor of Psychology, and has worked with Dr. Christina Brown, associate professor of Psychology.