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Lana Trick, Seneca Brandigampola, James Enns; Does the prolonged attentional blink to emotional stimuli affect driving performance?. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):15. doi: 10.1167/8.6.15.
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The attentional blink is a temporary delay in responding to a second stimulus in a stream after attending to the first. Recent investigations suggest the duration of the attentional blink is longer after viewing pictures with a negative emotional valence (Most, Chen, & Widders, 2005) though this effect has never been demonstrated in a day-to-day task. This study investigated whether this extended attentional blink would have an impact on driving performance. Participants were tested in a DriveSafety DS-600c driving simulator (a full car body surrounded by six viewing screens that immersed drivers in a 300 degree wrap-around virtual driving environment). They were required to drive down a virtual highway, following a lead vehicle. During the 75 minute drive they were exposed to high and low arousal pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS: Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 2001), pictures that had either a positive or negative emotional valence. In most cases, participants would simply be required to indicate whether the picture was positive or negative while lane keeping performance was assessed. However, occasionally the lead-vehicle would brake unexpectedly, forcing the participant to brake. Braking response times after positive and negative pictures were compared to those in a baseline (no picture) control condition. Results have practical implications as they relate to the enhanced collision risk that may occur as the result of upsetting images displayed on billboards or on in-vehicle entertainment devices (e.g., onboard DVD players).
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