Article

Navigational conversation impairs concurrent distance judgments

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Abstract

Dual-task performance as it relates to driving, such as tuning a radio or manipulating a cellular phone, forces drivers to divide their attention between the traffic demands and the in-car task. The present study investigated how concurrent spatial or non-spatial cognitive distractions mediated proximity judgments using vehicular stimuli. Utilizing a modified version of the task employed by [Elias, L.J., Robinson, B. in press. Drive on the right side of the road: perceptual asymmetries for judgments of automobile proximity. International Journal of Neuroscience.] the current study examined how mental navigation (spatial distraction) affected accuracy and response time for depth judgments on vehicular stimuli in each visual field. These were compared to a control condition in which no distraction was present, as well as when a semantic (non-spatial) distraction was present. We found that conversation of a navigational nature (i.e., spatial distraction) most negatively impacted accuracy and response time when processing dynamically changing vehicle proximity. Further, these deleterious effects appeared to be uniform throughout the visual field. Findings are related to driving while being distracted, with particular emphasis on the role of cerebral lateralization in dual-task performance.

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... A great deal of navigation research has been done in psychology and in cognitive sciences. This body of research usually relies on experimental or elicited data and tends to emphasize the efficiency or success rate of navigation and the errors made by navigators (Aginsky et al. 1997;Burns 1998;Ishikawa et al. 2008;Patrick and Elias 2009). The challenge with elicited data, such as questionnaires and interviews, is that people are usually not explicitly aware of how they accomplish the navigational tasks, let alone able to remember them afterwards (cf. ...
... Psathas 1976: 385). Some studies have also looked at the cognitive strategies of route learning (Aginsky et al. 1997), the modelling of conceptual route knowledge (Klippel et al. 2005), the use of mobile devices in collaborative wayfinding (Reilly et al. 2009) or argued that mental navigation and navigational conversation distract and impede upon driving (Patrick and Elias 2009). ...
... In an experimental study on the relationship between navigation and conversation, Patrick and Elias (2009) found that navigational conversation negatively impacted accuracy and response times in particular driving situations. Their findings therefore suggested that conversational navigation is a distraction to driving. ...
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... ii. Une situation de conduite simulée : Shinar & al.(2005) (Patrick & Elias, 2009 ;Shinar & al., 2005). Des tâches de calculs mentaux baissent les capacités de conduite (Shinar & al., 2005 ;Lengenfelder & al., 2002), notamment la rapidité de réaction au freinage (Lamble & al., 1999). ...
... The rationale for studying this particular spatial reasoning task as a secondary task was that, though cognitive interference of a spatial nature has already been studied before in a driving context (Patrick & Elias, 2009), the distracting effect of semantically related spatial memory codes on driving performance has not. Moreover, we wanted to test the generality of the observation that not only physically related items, but also items belonging to the same semantic category may cause crosstalk (Hirst & Kalmar, 1987). ...
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... The impact factors of attention harmonious could be inference from some basic study. For instance, Patrick and Elias [12] made a dual-task performance as it relates to driving, such as tuning a radio or manipulating a cellular phone, drive on the right side of the road: perceptual asymmetries for judgments of automobile proximity. It forces drivers to divide their attention between the traffic demands and the in-car task. ...
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In order to plan activity, people must imagine the spatial consequences of potential actions. Two classes of mental spatial transformation can be distinguished: Object-based spatial transformations are imagined movements of objects, such as mental rotation. Egocentric perspective transformations are imagined changes in one's viewpoint, such as imagining one's self in the position of another person. Here we report a case in which electrical stimulation of the right parietal cortex selectively interfered with performance of a mental rotation task. Interference was selective to this stimulation site, and was task specific. Performance of the perspective transformation task, and a control for visual encoding and responding, were unimpaired by stimulation. This marks the first instance of the use of direct cortical stimulation to investigate mental spatial transformations.
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Experimental research on the effects of cellular phone conversations on driving indicates that the phone task interferes with many driving-related functions, especially with older drivers. Unfortunately in past research (1) the dual task conditions were not repeated in order to test for learning, (2) the 'phone tasks' were not representative of real conversations, and (3) most often both the driving and the phone tasks were experimenter-paced. In real driving drivers learn to time-share various tasks, they can pace their driving to accommodate the demands of a phone conversation, and they can even partially pace the phone conversation to accommodate the driving demands. The present study was designed to better simulate real driving conditions by providing a simulated driving environment with repeated experiences of driving while carrying two different hands-free 'phone' tasks with different proximities to real conversations. In the course of five sessions of driving and using the phone, there was a learning effect on most of the driving measures. In addition, the interference from the phone task on many of the driving tasks diminished over time as expected. Finally, the interference effects were greater when the phone task was the often-used artificial math operations task than when it was an emotionally involving conversation, when the driving demands were greater, and when the drivers were older. Thus, the deleterious effects of conversing on the phone are very real initially, but may not be as severe with continued practice at the dual task, especially for drivers who are not old.
Functional cerebral space
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Drive on the right side of the road: perceptual asymmetries for judgments of automobile proximity
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