December 2010
Volume 10, Issue 15
OSA Fall Vision Meeting Abstract  |   December 2010
Factors influencing scanning for alerts
Author Affiliations
  • Jeffrey B. Mulligan
    NASA Ames Research Center
Journal of Vision December 2010, Vol.10, 69. doi:
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      Jeffrey B. Mulligan; Factors influencing scanning for alerts. Journal of Vision 2010;10(15):69. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Aircraft pilots (like operators in many domains) are required to monitor locations for rare events, while concurrently performing their everyday tasks. In many cases, the visual parameters of the alert are such that it is not visible unless directly fixated. For this reason, critical alerts should be designed to be visible in peripheral vision and/or augmented by an audio alarm. We use the term “conspicuity” to distinguish the attention-getting power of a visual stimulus from simple visibility in a single-task context. We have measured conspicuity in an experimental paradigm designed to test the N-SEEV model of attention and noticing (Steelman-Allen et al., HFES 2009). The subject performed a demanding central task while monitoring four peripheral locations for color change events. Visibility of the alerting stimuli was measured separately in a control experiment in which the subject maintained steady fixation without the central task. Thresholds in the dual-task experiments were lower than would be expected based on the results of the control experiment, due to the fact that the subjects actively sampled the alert locations with fixations while performing the central task. Locations of high-frequency alerts are generally sampled more often than locations of low-frequency alerts, and alert location sampling in general increases with practice, presumably because the demands of the central task are reduced.

Supported by the Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck Technologies project of NASA's Aviation Safety Program. 
Steelman-Allen, K. S., McCarley, J. S., Wickens, C., Sebok, A., Bzostek, J.(2009). N-SEEV: a computational model of attention and noticing. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 53(12), 774–778. [CrossRef]

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