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Amanda Pype, Jeffrey Lin, Scott Murray, Geoffrey Boynton; Individual differences in the shape of visual attention during object tracking. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):315. doi: 10.1167/10.7.315.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Performance in visual tasks varies across individuals. For example, video game players (VGPs) perform better than non-video game players (NVGPs) in a variety of spatial attention tasks. We were interested in whether these differences are due to an enhanced focus of attention at fixation, a greater spread of attention around fixation, or a combination of the two. We studied this by developing a dual-task experiment that measured the shape of the spatial ‘spotlight’ of attention during a single object tracking task.
A set of experienced VGPs and NVGPs tracked a single object moving at either low or high speed around a display and monitored a continuously changing digit embedded on the object. After a random period of tracking time, the object was removed and a probe was presented at a random location. Participants reported both the final digit on the tracked object and the location of the probe. Performance on the probe detection task was analyzed as a function of the probe's position relative to the final position and direction of the tracked object.
Results show that VGPs performance on the probe task was both greater than NVGPs for probes near fixation and fell off less sharply with distance from fixation. In addition, for NVGPs, increasing the speed of an object (1) forced a shrinking of spatial attention around the tracked object and (2) changed the shape of spatial attention from a circular spotlight to an ellipse oriented in the direction of the tracked object. However, the shape of the attentional spotlight for VGPs was largely unaffected by the speed of the tracked object. Overall, our results suggest that when tracking single objects, VGPs employ a significantly stronger, larger and more invariant spotlight of attention than NVGPs.
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