Effects of practise on visuo-spatial attention in a wayfinding task

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Several studies have evaluated the distribution of visuo-spatial attention in a wayfnding task, using gaze direction as an indicator for the locus of attention. We extended that work by evaluating how visuo-spatial attention is modifed by wayfnding practice. Young and older participants followed prescribed routes through a virtual city on six trials. Each trial was followed by a route recall test, where participants saw screenshots of intersections encountered, and had to indicate which way to proceed. Behavioral and gaze data were registered in those tests. Wayfnding accuracy increased from trial to trial, more so in young than in older persons. Total gaze time, mean fxation time, and the vertical scatter of fxations decreased from trial to trial, similarly in young and older persons. The horizontal scatter of fxations did not difer between trials and age groups. The incidence of fxations on the subsequently chosen side also did not difer between trials, but it increased in older age. We interpret these fndings as evidence that as wayfnding practice increased, participants gradually narrowed their attentional focus to the most relevant screenshot area, processed information within this focus more efciently, reduced the total time in which attention dwelled on the rejected side of the screenshot, but maintained the total time on the chosen side. These dynamic changes of visuo-spatial attention were comparable in young and older participants. However, it appears that decision making difered between age groups: older persons’ attention dwelled longer on the chosen side before they made their choice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Research
Number of pages11
ISSN1430-2772
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20.01.2021

ID: 5592992

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