In complex dynamic tasks such as driving it is essential to be aware of potentially important targets in peripheral vision. While eye tracking methods in various driving tasks have provided much information about drivers’ gaze strategies, these methods only inform about overt attention and provide limited grounds to assess hypotheses concerning covert attention. We adapted the Posner cue paradigm to a dynamic steering task in a driving simulator. The participants were instructed to report the presence of peripheral targets while their gaze was fixed to the road. We aimed to see whether and how the active steering task and complex visual stimulus might affect directing covert attention to the visual periphery. In a control condition, the detection task was performed without a visual scene and active steering. Detection performance in bends was better in the control task compared to corresponding performance in the steering task, indicating that active steering and the complex visual scene affected the ability to distribute covert attention. Lower targets were discriminated slower than targets at the level of the fixation circle in both conditions. We did not observe higher discriminability for on-road targets. The results may be accounted for by either bottom-up optic flow biasing of attention, or top-down saccade planning.
Fields of Science
- 6162 Cognitive science