Visual attention measures predict pedestrian detection in central field loss: a pilot study


Alberti CF, Horowitz T, Bronstad MP, Bowers AR. Visual attention measures predict pedestrian detection in central field loss: a pilot study. PLoS One 2014;9(2):e89381.

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PURPOSE: The ability of visually impaired people to deploy attention effectively to maximize use of their residual vision in dynamic situations is fundamental to safe mobility. We conducted a pilot study to evaluate whether tests of dynamic attention (multiple object tracking; MOT) and static attention (Useful Field of View; UFOV) were predictive of the ability of people with central field loss (CFL) to detect pedestrian hazards in simulated driving. METHODS: 11 people with bilateral CFL (visual acuity 20/30-20/200) and 11 age-similar normally-sighted drivers participated. Dynamic and static attention were evaluated with brief, computer-based MOT and UFOV tasks, respectively. Dependent variables were the log speed threshold for 60% correct identification of targets (MOT) and the increase in the presentation duration for 75% correct identification of a central target when a concurrent peripheral task was added (UFOV divided and selective attention subtests). Participants drove in a simulator and pressed the horn whenever they detected pedestrians that walked or ran toward the road. The dependent variable was the proportion of timely reactions (could have stopped in time to avoid a collision). RESULTS: UFOV and MOT performance of CFL participants was poorer than that of controls, and the proportion of timely reactions was also lower (worse) (84% and 97%, respectively; p = 0.001). For CFL participants, higher proportions of timely reactions correlated significantly with higher (better) MOT speed thresholds (r = 0.73, p = 0.01), with better performance on the UFOV divided and selective attention subtests (r = -0.66 and -0.62, respectively, p<0.04), with better contrast sensitivity scores (r = 0.54, p = 0.08) and smaller scotomas (r = -0.60, p = 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that brief laboratory-based tests of visual attention may provide useful measures of functional visual ability of individuals with CFL relevant to more complex mobility tasks.

Last updated on 11/11/2018