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The role of spatial consistency in dual-task detection: Implications for automatic and controlled search.

Hill, Nicole Michelle (2010) The role of spatial consistency in dual-task detection: Implications for automatic and controlled search. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The goal of this dissertation is to understand what enables successful dual-task performance when one of the component tasks continuously requires attention. Simultaneously performing two tasks is extremely challenging. When first attempting to dual-task, performance tends to be effortful and error prone even when both tasks have been trained extensively in isolation. Although single-task practice is helpful, dual-task practice is necessary in order to learn how to coordinate, integrate and prioritize component tasks. Dual-tasking is cognitively resource intensive and therefore it is critical to automate as much task related processing as possible. When one of the component tasks continuously requires attention, such as a varied-mapped (VM) task, it presents an additional challenge. Schneider and Fisk (1982a) demonstrated that the attention-consuming VM task must be prioritized throughout training in order for the performer to learn to dual-task without cost. Furthermore, they demonstrated that cost-free dual-tasking is only possible when the attention-consuming VM task is paired with an automatic consistently-mapped (CM) task. Hill and Schneider conducted pilot research demonstrating that participants were unable to prioritize the attention-consuming VM task despite intention and extensive training. The current study is an attempt to understand the source of this failure. Three hypotheses were tested, 1) CM target pop-out enables CM-VM proficient dual-tasking, 2) consistent spatial search across task load enables proficient dual-tasking 3) distractor segregation impedes proficient dual-tasking. Four experiments were conducted in which participants attempted to learn to perform a CM-VM dual-task without cost. All participants were instructed to prioritize the attention-consuming VM task; however some experimental groups incurred greater dual-task interference. The behavioral data suggests that both CM task pop-out and consistent spatial search across task loads enable CM-VM dual-task performance without cost. The result highlights the importance of minimizing confusability and implementing multiple levels of consistency when attempting to train a cognitively intensive high workload skill.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hill, Nicole
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchneider, Walterwws@pitt.eduWWS
Committee MemberGonzalez,
Committee MemberSiegle, Greggsiegle@pitt.eduGSIEGLE
Committee MemberBecker, JimBeckerJT@upmc.eduBECKERJT
Date: 18 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 26 January 2010
Approval Date: 18 June 2010
Submission Date: 22 April 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: automatic processing; automaticity; consistent mapping; controlled processing; popout; spatial consistency; varied mapping; dual task; timesharing
Other ID:, etd-04222010-205204
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:35


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