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Establishing gaze markers of perceptual load during multi-target visual search

Harris, Anthony M; Eayrs, Joshua O; Lavie, Nilli; (2023) Establishing gaze markers of perceptual load during multi-target visual search. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications , 8 , Article 56. 10.1186/s41235-023-00498-7. Green open access

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Abstract

Highly-automated technologies are increasingly incorporated into existing systems, for instance in advanced car models. Although highly automated modes permit non-driving activities (e.g. internet browsing), drivers are expected to reassume control upon a 'take over' signal from the automation. To assess a person's readiness for takeover, non-invasive eye tracking can indicate their attentive state based on properties of their gaze. Perceptual load is a well-established determinant of attention and perception, however, the effects of perceptual load on a person's ability to respond to a takeover signal and the related gaze indicators are not yet known. Here we examined how load-induced attentional state affects detection of a takeover-signal proxy, as well as the gaze properties that change with attentional state, in an ongoing task with no overt behaviour beyond eye movements (responding by lingering the gaze). Participants performed a multi-target visual search of either low perceptual load (shape targets) or high perceptual load (targets were two separate conjunctions of colour and shape), while also detecting occasional auditory tones (the proxy takeover signal). Across two experiments, we found that high perceptual load was associated with poorer search performance, slower detection of cross-modal stimuli, and longer fixation durations, while saccade amplitude did not consistently change with load. Using machine learning, we were able to predict the load condition from fixation duration alone. These results suggest monitoring fixation duration may be useful in the design of systems to track users' attentional states and predict impaired user responses to stimuli outside of the focus of attention.

Type: Article
Title: Establishing gaze markers of perceptual load during multi-target visual search
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s41235-023-00498-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-023-00498-7
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Attention, Cross-modal processing, Eye movements, Perceptual load, Visual search, Humans, Advance Directives, Automation, Caffeine, Excipients, Eye Movements
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10176212
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