The effect of auditory distraction on the useful field of view in hearing impaired individuals and its implications for driving
This study assessed whether the increased demand of listening in hearing impaired individuals exacerbates the detrimental impact of auditory distraction on a visual task (useful field of view test), relative to normally hearing listeners. Auditory distraction negatively affects this visual task, which is linked with various driving performance outcomes. Hearing impaired and normally hearing participants performed useful field of view testing with and without a simultaneous listening task. They also undertook a cognitive test battery. For all participants, performing the visual and auditory tasks together reduced performance on each respective test. For a number of subtests, hearing impaired participants showed poorer visual task performance, though not to a statistically significant extent. Hearing impaired participants were significantly poorer at a reading span task than normally hearing participants and tended to score lower on the most visually complex subtest of the visual task in the absence of auditory task engagement. Useful field of view performance is negatively affected by auditory distraction, and hearing loss may present further problems, given the reductions in visual and cognitive task performance suggested in this study. Suggestions are made for future work to extend this study, given the practical importance of the findings.
KeywordsUseful field of view (UFOV) Distraction Hearing loss Listening effort Attention Driving
Support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Higher Education Innovation Funding and the Economic and Social Research Council is gratefully acknowledged. The authors would also like to thank VTI, Linköping and Linköping University Hospital, Sweden, and in particular Mrs. Birgitta Thorslund, for their help with the recruitment for, and running of, this experiment.
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