The relationship between steering control and coherent motion performance under deteriorated conditions

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Nguyen, Bobby T.
Ni, Rui

Driving is primarily a visual task that involves processing visual information over space and time (e.g., motion perception). Previous research has shown that such spatial and temporal processing becomes much more difficult under deteriorated conditions such as driving at night or in fog. One important research question is whether the deterioration associated with low contrast scenes can be recovered though training. This dissertation aims to answer this question in two experiments by testing a theoretical framework of perceptual learning training, which is based on low level common mechanisms, on a steering control task. The first experiment examined whether a relationship exists between performances on 2D and 3D Coherent Motion tasks under low contrast and a simulated steering control task under low contrast. The results from Experiment 1 demonstrates that performance on the Coherent Motion tasks, regardless of whether they are 2D or 3D displays, is able to predict certain performance measures of steering control. Then, Experiment 2 examined whether perceptual learning training utilizing the low contrast Coherent Motion task has an effect on steering control performance under low contrast. After five hours of Coherent Motion training, participants significantly improved their squared coherency scores on the steering control task more than the control group, indicating an increase in steering stability and predictability. These results suggest that perceptual learning of a simple, low-level visual task can be transferred to a more complex task, which share a common low level mechanism.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology