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Poster F29

Does Driving while Dual-Tasking Affect Landmark Memory in Young Adults?

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Yadurshana Sivashankar1 (, Katherine Bak2,3, Myra Fernandes1, Jennifer Campos2,3; 1University of Waterloo, 2KITE-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, 3University of Toronto

The acquisition of spatial knowledge while navigating a route can be influenced by encoding conditions. For example, a driver who is distracted by a conversation with a passenger may have poorer memory for landmarks relative to a driver navigating without distraction. There are limited ecologically valid studies examining the influence of distractions on memory for landmarks within a driving environment. In the current study, 24 young adults were asked to complete a driving task alone (no distraction), and then under two different divided-attention conditions in which they had to repeat back presented sentences; these were either Easier (4 dB signal-noise-ratio; SNR) or Harder (0 dB SNR) to hear, with the latter requiring a greater amount of cognitive effort. Within a simulated driving environment, implemented using DriverLab, participants followed a lead car along city and rural roads. Afterwards, incidental memory for critical landmarks from each of the three driving conditions (no-distraction, divided-attention high SNR, divided-attention low SNR) was assessed using a landmark recognition task. Memory for landmarks in the no-distraction condition was better than in the easier (high SNR) divided-attention condition, though surprisingly we found no difference in landmark memory following the ‘no distraction’ and the ‘harder’ (low SNR) condition. Our results suggest a U-shape curve whereby low-level distraction might seem manageable, but indeed negatively affects landmark encoding. However, in the harder attentional condition, cognitive capacity has likely exceeded to allow processing of the distractor-task, thus enabling selective processing of the primary task to enhance performance on the landmark test.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Spatial


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April 13–16  |  2024