My research centres on the study of attention and working memory, and how attention and memory operations change as individuals progress from childhood to old age. I have both basic and applied research programs.
Basic research consists of various topics and is often conducted in my Visual Attention Lab, while my applied research largely focuses on crash risk and factors affecting attention while driving, which I study in the DRiVE Lab.
Temporal and Spatial Enumeration
When people make judgements about the number of items they see presented to them laid out in space, the primary critical factors are the number of those items and whether or not there are similar looking distracting items. If people see between 1 and 4 items they can usually make instant judgements that are very accurate, but once the number climbs above 4 they start to slow down and the relationship between the time to count and the number of items becomes close to linear. The ability to make instant judgements about small numbers of items is known as subitizing.
Research in temporal enumeration is trying to understand how people count and maintain a count of a number of events (sounds, image flashes) that have occurred over a period of time. This is usually done not with only the events themselves but also with distracting events, sounds, or images.
Multiple Object Tracking
One rather remarkable ability that we humans possess is our ability to track some target objects through distractors even when those targets look identical to the distractors. Research on this topic looks at determining not only how many different objects we can track among the distractors, but also determining how this ability develops over our lifespans. Children aren't quite as good at tracking as many objects as adolescents and adults are, and it is hypothesized that this is at least partially due to the fact that as we grow up our voluntary attentional control develops and we can better attend to the task put before us.
Reasoning in Uncertain Situations
When reasoning in situations in which we don't have all the facts it is often the case that we can still make decisions. People don't know an outcome but they have intuitions and hunches about the outcome. How do people become to these judgements and what reasoning processes are involved in making these judgements.
The Gamblers' Fallacy
The Gamblers' Fallacy is the idea, often experienced by Gamblers' that if something hasn't occurred in some time that it is more likely to happen in the future. To put it another way, it is the mistaken belief that if you have been getting a run 10 of heads in a row on a coin toss that a tails is much more likely on the next toss.
I have an Oktal driving simulator. The simulator involves an actual car body surrounded by viewing screens that immerse drivers in a virtual reality allowing them to experience all the sights, sounds, and feelings of driving without experiencing the risk. With the collaboration of researchers from Computing and Information Science and Engineering, I am using this simulator in order to investigate the following issues:
- Age and experience related changes in crash risk as they relate to multiple target tracking and the impact of distraction
- The effect of new technologies on driving performance (e.g. cell phone use, in-vehicle navigation systems, collision avoidance systems, multimedia devices, etc.)
- Simulator adaptation syndrome, (galvanic vestibular stimulation and galvanic cutaneous stimulation)
- Change blindness
- Useful field of view
- Attentional blink
- Impact of emotions on driving safety