Kieu Nguyen/Iman Feghhi (UC Riverside)
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Iman Feghhi
Title: Judging The Subjective Difficulty of Different Kinds of Tasks

Abstract: People judge the relative difficulty of different sorts of tasks all the time, yet little is known about how they do so. To address this issue, we asked university students to choose between tasks that taxed perceptual-motor control and memorization to different degrees. Our participants decided whether to carry a box through a narrow (36 cm) gap or a wide (81cm) gap after memorizing 6, 7, or 8 digits. We were able to account for 98% of the choice-data variance with a model that treated the extra physical demand of passing through the narrow gap as functionally equivalent to memorizing an extra .53 digits. By expressing one form of difficulty in terms of another, we arrived at a single index that may reflect an amodal measure of subjective difficulty. Our approach generalizes the psychophysical method of cross-modal sensory comparison to performance and provides a basis for making new predictions about behavioral choices.

Kieu Nguyen
Title: Driving, Attention, and Performance

Abstract: There are limits to our ability to attend visual information. In the context of driving, this has important implications for driving safety such as the ability to detect and avoid a collision. A considerable amount of research has shown that the spatial allocation of attention can improve perceptual performance on a variety of tasks. Research has also shown that the effects of attention can vary depending on the type of attention utilized. I plan to examine whether utilizing spatial attention allocation will improve collision detection in a driving-relevant dual-task paradigm and whether the type of attention will differentially affect performance. The importance of this research to the design of driver assist systems will be discussed.