Monday, 6 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminars for the coming term (2018 II)

This semester we are running a series of school-wide research seminars every second Wednesday, 12-1pm, starting from Week 2 - 8th August.

Guest speakers and topics:

·       Kristen Pammer              Attention, distraction and driving in the loop

·       Genevieve Dingle            Music and emotions across the lifespan

·       Kara Fedemeier               Finding meaning in time: what electrophysiology reveals about how the brain makes sense of the world

·       Mohsen Zamani              Theoretical modelling of social networks to capture social influence/ persuasion processes  

·       ECR Committee              Introducing the Psychology ECR’s

·       Cognitive Group             Why would people use Bayes instead of NHST? And How-to! With demonstrations and workshop

The first talk is by our very own Head of School, Prof Kristen Pammer:

Image result for kristeen pammer

Speaker: Kristen Pammer
Where:  Keats Room AVLG-17 and video conference to Ourimbah Science offices
When: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Attention, distraction and driving in the loop

Safe driving is predicated on attending to objects that are important in the environment, but also filtering out what is unimportant. Failing to detect critical objects when driving are estimated to constitute approximately 5% of all crashes, and around 9% of crashes involving serious injury. Looked-but-failed-to-see crashes describe car crashes in which drivers are apparently looking directly at an unexpected object on the road yet report failing to see it, resulting in a collision. A cognitive mechanism that explains looked-but-failed-to-see crashes is inattentional blindness (IB). IB is a phenomenon that occurs when observers fail to notice an unexpected, though clearly visible object in their visual field when their attention is engaged elsewhere. We have designed a unique driving-related IB task to explore attentional allocation to critical objects when driving, such as hazards and motorcycles, in different cohorts of drivers. In this, we have demonstrated differential allocation of attention, and this is important for our understanding of attention and situation awareness in driving.  Moreover, the complexity and familiarity of the driving task impacts situation awareness, such that our capacity for identifying changes in the driving scene deteriorates when the task of driving requires less attention – such as in familiar or unvarying driving environments. To address this, we propose that some level of distraction can optimise attentional capture of unexpected stimuli by disrupting the attentional set for driving, and forcing the observer to distribute their attention more broadly. This contradicts the common understanding of distraction in driving, where distraction refers to an additional stimulus that draws attention away from the primary task of driving. Yet we have demonstrated that that task-irrelevant distraction - regardless of modality - has the potential to facilitate conscious processing of unexpected stimuli. This implies an optimal level of distraction may be required for optimal attentional engagement. This is important in the context of increasing automation in driving, where drivers are increasingly ‘out of the loop’ and disengaged from the driving situation. Evidence of attentional engagement is crucial to our ability to allocate attention in a take-over scenario.