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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter September 7, 2017

Drowsiness discrimination in an overnight driving simulation on the basis of RR and QT intervals

  • Christian Heinze EMAIL logo , Constantin Hütterer , Thomas Schnupp , Gustavo Lenis and Martin Golz


We examined if ECG-based features are discrimi-native towards drowsiness. Twenty-five volunteers (19–32 years) completed 7×40 minutes of monotonous overnight driving simulation, designed to induce drowsiness. ECG (512 s-1) was recorded continuously; subjective ratings of drowsiness on the Karolinska sleepiness scale (KSS) were polled every five minutes. ECG recordings were divided into 5-min segments, each associated with the mean of one self- and two observer-KSS ratings. Those mean KSS values were binarized to obtain two classes not drowsy and drowsy. The Q-, R- and T-waves in the recordings were detected; R-peak positions were manually reviewed; the Q- and T-detection method was tested against the manual annotations of Physio-net’s QT database. Power spectral densities of RR intervals (RR-PSD) and quantiles of the empirical distribution of heart-rate corrected QTc intervals were estimated. Support-vector machines and random-holdout cross-validation were used for the estimation of the classification error. Using either RR-PSD or QTc features yielded mean test errors of 79.3 ± 0.3 % and 82.7 ± 0.5 %, respectively. Merging RR and QTc features improved the accuracy to 88.3 ± 0.2 %. QTc intervals of the class drowsy were generally prolonged com-pared to not drowsy. Our findings indicate that the inclusion of QT intervals contribute to the discrimination of driver sleepiness.

Published Online: 2017-09-07

©2017 Christian Heinze et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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