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Distracters in Digital Identity

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Turatto et al. Significant reaction time delays were observed in both cross-modal conditions, where the primary and secondary stimuli were presented in different modes. Tellinghuisen and Nowak 5 also found evidence of cross-modal performance deficits using a different methodology with simultaneous, rather than sequential presentation of stimuli.

Increases in response errors and reaction time occurred when participants performed visual searches simultaneously with auditory distracters that were incongruent with the visual target. When the auditory distracters were neutral to the visual search, there were fewer performance deficits. This suggests that an auditory distracter has little effect on visual search, unless it requires cognitive processing. Thus, the visual task involved in driving is unlikely to be affected by a simple auditory distracter e.


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The present study examined the effects of both simple and complex auditory and visual distracters on a measure of visual attention, which was patterned on the useful field of view described by Ball et al. Wood 7 showed that the useful field of view can predict impaired on-road driving performance. The useful field of view test thus provides the opportunity to investigate the effect of distracters under controlled laboratory conditions on outcomes that have been shown to be related to important measures of road safety.

Although the effects of visual distracters on the useful field of view are well known, 10 11 those of distracters from other sensory modalities, such as audition, have not been fully investigated. Barkana et al. Although this study provided information about the location of errors, the visual measure was undertaken monocularly, rather than binocularly, which would clearly be a better representation of driving.

In the study of Atchley and Dressel 12 the test was undertaken binocularly; however, the outcome measure from the commercial version of the useful field of view used in that research provides no measure of the spatial distribution of errors.

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Furthermore, both used an unstructured conversational task and neither study varied the difficulty of the auditory task. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of three levels of auditory distracters in combination with visual distracters on a measure of the useful field of view and to determine whether the effects of visual and auditory distracters on detection of central and peripheral targets are qualitatively similar. It was hypothesized that the complex auditory distracter would have a deleterious effect on overall performance of the useful field of view.

A further goal of the study was to determine whether the distracters produce a generalized increase in errors across the useful field of view or whether these were location specific, resulting in a narrowing of the useful field of view, as has been reported in previous research. Twenty-eight young participants mean age, Participants wore the optical correction that they normally wore while driving, if any. All participants were screened to ensure that they could detect pure tone auditory stimuli set to a 20 dB hearing level at octave frequencies between and Hz.

The study was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Queensland University of Technology Human Research Ethics Committee and adhered to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki. All participants were given a full explanation of the experimental procedures and written informed consent was obtained, with the option to withdraw from the study at any time.

The participants were positioned with a head rest, so that the eyes were centered with respect to the computer monitor at a viewing distance of 27 cm.

Central and peripheral visual targets were presented on the 21 in. The central task required participants to indicate whether a circle was present or absent within the central region of the display demarcated by a rectangle. The response to the peripheral target was recorded only when the subject gave a correct response to the central target.

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Participants thus had to undertake a minimum of 24 trials: one at each of the 24 peripheral locations. The peripheral target the triangle was presented either against an empty screen or embedded within a distracter array. The distracters consisted of 47 squares of the same luminance, height, and width as the triangular peripheral targets. The presentation of central and peripheral targets was preceded by the box demarcating the central test region, followed by the appearance of the central and peripheral targets for 90 ms, and finally a background-masking screen consisting of a grid of vertical and horizontal lines.

After the stimulus presentation, the participants were asked to report whether the central target had been present or absent and to indicate the location of the peripheral target by pointing to a template presented on the screen after the stimulus presentation.


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  • The auditory distraction task selected in the present study was the Australian version of the staggered spondaic word SSW test which is the best-known and most frequently used dichotic speech test in Australia. A series of practice tasks were used to familiarize participants with the useful field of view and SSW tasks. After the practice trial, all participants completed the six test combinations.


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    These consisted of three auditory test conditions no auditory distracters, auditory distracters requiring participants to listen to the words, auditory distracters requiring participants to repeat the words paired with two visual conditions peripheral visual distracters present or absent. For testing conditions that included an auditory distracter, items from the SSW test were used. Words on the test are spondees, that is, they are words of two syllables with essentially equal stress on each syllable e.

    Each SSW test item consists of two spondee words, one presented to each ear and staggered so that the second monosyllable of the first word is presented simultaneously with the first monosyllable of the second word e. An error was recorded if the participant omitted any of the spondee words, or parts of them, or reversed the elements of the words e. For the purposes of this study if one or more of these errors was made in a word set, it was recorded as a single error.

    If both spondees were repeated correctly, this was recorded as a single correct answer. The order in which the SSW items were presented was randomized. The test conditions were presented in a pseudorandomized order in an attempt to minimize the impact of any learning effects on the data, avoiding the most difficult condition being presented as either the first or the last presentation.

    The means number of errors made at the central visual field position are shown in Figure 1 as a function of whether visual and auditory distracters were present. The rate of central errors for each condition was calculated and transformed using an arc sine transformation. The group mean errors in the periphery as a function of visual and auditory distracters are shown in Figure 2.

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    Peripheral performance on the useful field of view was also scored as an error rate, and an arc sine transformation was applied to the data see Ball et al. To determine whether visual and auditory distracters had a greater impact on errors made at the more peripheral locations, the number of errors was calculated as a function of their eccentricity from the center. Figure 3 represents the group mean number of errors in the periphery of a possible eight errors at each eccentricity with and without visual distracters, as a function of eccentricity and auditory distracter level. An arc sine transformation was again applied to the error rate data.

    When viewing the plots of the raw data as a function of location, it was apparent that there were more errors in the inferior than in the superior region.