Dr Melina Kunar, from the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology, and Dr Todd Horowitz, from Harvard Medical School, ran a number of experiments in which the participants had to pay attention and respond (by pressing one of two keys on a keyboard) to a series of discs moving around a computer screen.
Some of the participants carried out the task with no distraction. Others carried out the task while also using speaker phones to simultaneously engage in a normal phone conversation, discussing things such as their hobbies and interests. The researchers found that on average the reaction times of those engaging in the hands free telephone conversation were 212 milliseconds slower than those who undertook the task without the simultaneous telephone conversation. A car travelling at 60 miles an hour would travel 5.7 metres (18.7 feet) in that time so the distracting conversation would obviously increase any braking distance at that speed by the same amount. The test participants who were distracted by a phone conversation also made 83% more errors in the task than those not in phone conversations.
The researchers also looked at the effect the hands free telephone conversations had on visual attention if the phone conversation was skewed to a more passively orientated task. To do so they asked the test participants to listen over the speaker phones to a series of words and to repeat each word in turn. The research team also looked at the effect of a much more complicated conversational task in which the test participants had to listen to a series of words and after each word then think of and say a new word which began with the last letter of the word they had just heard.
For the more passive speaking condition, in which words were simply heard and repeated, they found that performance of test participants in this condition was the same as when they took the task without any distraction. However, they found the more complicated conversation in which the test participants were required to create and respond with a new word dramatically worsened the participants’ response times which were on average 480 milliseconds slower than those who undertook the task without any form of distracting telephone conversation. This suggests that hands free telephone conversations which require people to carefully consider the information they hear and then to make complex cognitive choices based on that information (a business decision for instance) have a particularly significant negative impact on a driver’s ability to process and act on the visual information that is critical to their driving performance.
Interestingly the researchers also examined what the effect would be of simply listening to a story while carrying out the task – an experience not unlike listening to speech radio while driving. To test this some of the participants in the experiment tried to complete the task while listening to the first chapter of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. They were also told they would have to answer questions on the story after the task was finished. The researchers found that in fact this activity made very little difference to the test participants response times or accuracy
The lead researcher in the project, Dr Melina Kunar from the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology, said: “Our research shows that simply using phones hands free is not enough to eliminate significant impacts on a driver’s visual attention. Generating responses for a conversation competes for the brain’s resources with other activities which simply cannot run in parallel. This leads to a cognitive “bottleneck” developing in the brain, particularly with the more complicated task of word generation.”
Peter Dunn | alfa
Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences