Conversation disrupts change detection in complex traffic scenes

Jason S. McCarley, Margaret J. Vais, Heather Pringle, Arthur F. Kramer, David E. Irwin, David L. Strayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A set of studies examined the effects of cognitive distraction on visual scanning and change detection in natural traffic scenes. Experiment 1 found that a naturalistic hands-free phone conversation could disrupt change detection, thereby degrading the encoding of visual information and increasing the frequency of undetected changes. Data also revealed a tendency for conversation to impair knowledge-driven orienting of attention in older adults. Experiment 2 found that an attentive listening task produced no such effects. Actual or potential applications of this research include the design of displays and interventions to minimize the effects of cognitive distraction on human performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-436
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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