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B.M. Junghans, A. Choi, A. Coveney, H.M. Lee, P.H. G. Wee; Visual Fields Do Change When There Are Auditory Distractors . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):2306.
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Handheld mobile phones in cars have been banned in Australia due to their increased involvement in car accidents. Cross–modal interactions between vision and audition are known to occur. Hence, this study examined the changes in spatial sensitivity of the retina accompanying auditory distraction and the imposition of an auditory cognitive memory task.
The visual fields of 60 subjects (21 male, 39 female) aged 18 to 30 with normal scores on the Scan C auditory figure–ground test were examined using the Medmont Monocular Driving Visual Field threshold test. The test was adapted to allow 111 visual field points to be assessed on the dominant eye three times at the one visit: first and last without auditory distraction, separated by an identical field test but accompanied by music overdubbed with various sounds, and during which subjects were required to complete an auditory sequential memory test. An ANOVA was carried out to examine the effect of auditory distraction on the number of trials, fixation losses, false positives, false negatives, overall defect, pattern defect and on the slope of the hill of vision.
Significant (p<0.01) increases in the number of trials, fixation losses, false negatives and the overall defect score were found between the first baseline and the auditory distraction field tests. However, the possible effect of fatigue cannot be isolated regarding the overall defect score. No consistent pattern defects were found and the slope of the hill of vision was unaffected. Inexperienced subjects demonstrated significantly more fixation losses than subjects with experience in taking visual field tests. Post–test questionnaires indicate that the majority of subjects who perceived that they paid more attention to the auditory memory task than the visual field task scored more highly on the memory task.
Sensitivity across the visual field and the efficiency of spatial perceptual processing is significantly affected when the detection of auditory figure–ground stimuli and activation of auditory sequential memory are required. This may have implications towards understanding visual efficiency during driving whilst carrying on a conversation, say on a mobile phone, particularly if required to think critically about the conversation.
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