Performance consequences have been long established when humans multitask. This research concerns the impact of distraction on the attentional shifts during a task that underlies many cognitive processes and everyday tasks, searching for a target item among non-target items (e.g., scanning the road for potential collisions). There is evidence that increasing the mental workload by introducing additional tasks influences our ability to search our environment or interferes with processing fixated information. In the current studies, I aimed to evaluate the changes in gaze behaviors during visual search to evaluate how multitasking impairs our attentional processes. Participants completed a visual search task (search for a target T among distractor L's) while wearing a heads-up display (Google Glass) which displays an unrelated word during the dual task condition, while the control condition required participants to complete the search task without distraction. The changes in oculomotor behavior were observed in four experiments: (1) evaluating general oculomotor behavior during distraction, (2) masking the display onset of the secondary information during an eye movement to reduce the possibility of distraction from the word appearing, (3) removing any occlusion of stimuli from the heads-up display by having no visual overlap of the two tasks, and (4) evaluating whether oculomotor behaviors were similar to previous results when the nature of the distracting task changes in sensory modality. Participants typically took longer to respond when distracted, except for when the word onset was masked and the word was present auditorily. Oculomotor results indicated an increase in fixation durations (occasionally for the initial saccade latency as well) and a reduction of target fixations when participants were distracted by secondary information. These results suggest that secondary visual information can impact how humans search their environment in a fashion which increases their time to respond and impacts selective visual processing.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Lewis, Joanna, "Oculomotor Mechanisms Underlying Attentional Costs In Distracted Visual Search" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5892.