Training visual attention in a naturalistic visual environment

Ergonomics. 2019 Jun;62(6):748-758. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2019.1576925. Epub 2019 Feb 27.


The efficiency of training visual attention in the central and peripheral visual field was investigated by means of a visual detection task that was performed in a naturalistic visual environment including numerous, time-varying visual distractors. We investigated the minimum number of repetitions of the training required to obtain the top performance and whether intra-day training improved performance as efficiently as inter-day training. Additionally, our research aimed to find out whether exposure to a demanding task such as a microsurgical intervention may cancel out the effects of training. Results showed that performance in visual attention peaked within three (for tasks in the central visual field) to seven (for tasks in the periphery) days subsequent to training. Intra-day training had no significant effect on performance. When attention training was administered after exposure to stress, improvement of attentional performance was more pronounced than when training was completed before the exposure. Our findings support the implementation of training in situ at work for more efficient results. Practitioner Summary: Visual attention is important in an increasing number of workplaces, such as with surveillance, inspection, or driving. This study shows that it is possible to train visual attention efficiently within three to seven days. Because our study was executed in a naturalistic environment, training results are more likely to reflect the effects in the real workplace.

Keywords: Attention and vigilance; demanding workload; dynamic information; training; visual complexity.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult