July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
Object persistence enhances spatial navigation in visual menus: A case study in smartphone vision science
Author Affiliations
  • Brandon Liverence
    Department of Psychology, Yale University
  • Brian Scholl
    Department of Psychology, Yale University
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 809. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.809
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      Brandon Liverence, Brian Scholl; Object persistence enhances spatial navigation in visual menus: A case study in smartphone vision science. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):809. https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.809.

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

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Disruptions of spatiotemporal continuity in dynamic events impair many types of online visual cognition (e.g. change detection, multiple object tracking), suggesting that persisting objects serve as underlying units of attention and working memory. Can persistence also constrain visual learning over time, and could this make a difference in real-world contexts? We explored the role of persistence in spatial navigation through virtual scenes, using a novel "menu navigation" paradigm inspired by smartphone interfaces. Observers viewed "icons" (real-world object pictures) spatially organized into virtual grids that remained stable across all trials in a block. Only a subset of icons was visible at a time, viewed through a virtual window. On each trial, subjects navigated through the grid (via keypresses) to find 4 randomly-chosen target icons, in order, as quickly as possible. On Persist blocks, icons slid smoothly from page to page (mimicking many smartphone animations). On Fade blocks, icons were replaced by a fading animation with no motion (equating brute duration). Across many variations, subjects were significantly faster on Persist blocks — often by several seconds/trial. This difference occurred for both simple displays (e.g. grids of 4x4 pages with 1 visible icon/page) and for displays that more closely mirrored smartphone interfaces (e.g. grids of 3x3 pages with 4 visible icons/page.). It also occurred even towards the end of each block (after performance had reached asymptote), suggesting a reliance on robust implicit spatial representations (during Persist blocks) that could not be matched by explicit memorization (during Fade blocks). Further conditions verified that this result reflected object persistence per se, rather than attention capture, distraction, or momentary disappearance due to the fading. These results suggest that object persistence can control spatial learning over time as well as online perception, and they show how vision science can provide a foundation for understanding computer interface design.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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