Marc Vidal de Palol
Tel.: +49 541 969-3403
Institute of Cognitive Science,
49090 Osnabrück, Germany
Studying task-driven situations in visually simulated contexts
By the use of realistic virtual reality environments, the immersion of the subjects is considered to be favorably close when compared to naturalistic ones. In a large number of experimental studies, subjects report two essential components when the immersion happens. On the one hand, the place illusion or sensation of being in a real place. On the other, the illusion that the scenario shown is actually occurring. When both components are noticed, participants tend to react realistically to the VR simulations.
Also, the broad possibilities, flexibility and well-controlled experimental habitat that VR technologies offer, immensely facilitate and favor the study of close-to-naturalistic situations in the lab.
It is known that humans' location selection in a scene is driven by the stimuli (bottom-up) and by context-dependant (top-down) factors as, for instance, the given task. And these can be precisely defined, manipulated and time-controlled in simulated environments, allowing researchers to study their influence on visual perception dependant aspects such as attention and memory, for example.
In this project, research comparing the influence of the task within the same context is studied. To achieve that, car rides in a full-featured and realistic simulated city are used aiming to get more insights about how and what drives visual attention in humans.
Subjects' gaze points and brain electrophysiological activity is recorded using eye-tracking and EEG methodologies during the experimental tasks. With the analysis of the acquired data, the classification of relevant versus non-relevant targeted visual stimuli combined with their preceding event-related potentials are investigated in order to better understand the involved underlying cognitive processes.