Improving Target Detection in Visual Search Through The Augmenting Multi-sensory Cues

Hancock, P. A., Mercado, J. E., Merlo, J., & Van Erp, J. B. (2013). Improving target detection in visual search through the augmenting multi-sensory cues. Ergonomics, 56(5), 729-738.

The present experiment tested 60 individuals on a multiple screen, visual target detection task. Using a within-participant design, individuals received no-cue augmentation, an augmenting tactile cue alone, an augmenting auditory cue alone or both of the latter augmentations in combination. Results showed significant and substantive improvements in performance such that successful search speed was facilitated by more than 43%, errors of omission were reduced by 86% and errors of commission were reduced by more than 77% in the combinatorial cueing condition compared with the non-cued control. These outcomes were not a trade of performance efficiency for associated mental effort because recorded levels of cognitive workload were also reduced by more than 30% in the multi-cued circumstance compared with the control condition. When the tactile modality was incorporated it led to the highest gain in performance speed, when the auditory modality was incorporated, it led to the best levels of performance accuracy. The combined condition rendered the best of each from of performance increment. Reasons for this outcome pattern are discussed alongside their manifest practical benefits.

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