Modeling attentional deployment in an immersive environment using a foraging task in VR

Poster Presentation: Sunday, May 19, 2024, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, Pavilion
Session: Attention: Spatial selection 2

Chloe Callahan-Flintoft1 (), Joyce Tam2; 1United States Army Research Laboratory, 2The Pennsylvania State University

There is a wealth of information about how the brain decides on and selects locations of the visual field for enhanced processing. However the bulk of the knowledge acquired about visual attention is derived from paradigms using two-dimensional desktop displays. These experimental paradigms oftentimes involve restrictions of the head or eyes, where information is passively presented to the participant’s visual system. However, real world vision occurs in an immersive and interactive environment. One consequence of this is processing differences between actionable versus non actionable locations in the visual field. This has been seen both in speeded processing times of graspable locations (Reed et al., 2010) as well as biases in distance judgements of reachable locations, an effect shown to extend with tool use (Brockmole et al., 2013). Therefore in order to properly understand how mechanisms of visual attention operate in real world vision, it is essential to account for effects that may only be elicited in such immersive, interactive environments. Toward this goal, the current work had participants perform a conjunction, foraging task using a head mounted display in virtual reality. Participants shot targets amongst distractors using an airsoft rifle integrated into the virtual space. To probe how the presence of a trajectory tool (the rifle) affected the deployment of attention, a cue (a red disk) was presented on each trial, either at the location of the participant’s gaze, the weapon’s aim point, or at a neutral location. Differences in response times to the cue, particularly slowing when the cue was presented at aim point, as well as selection biases for targets near gaze or aim point are used to characterize the effect of the rifle on the attentional landscape in a 3-dimensional environment.