Central Interference in Driving: Is There Any Stopping the Psychological Refractory Period?

This study observed participants who attempted to perform two tasks concurrently during simulated driving tasks. In the choice task, they responded either manually or vocally to the number of times a visual or auditory stimulus occurred; in the braking task, they depressed a brake pedal in response to the lead car's brake lights. The time delay between the onset of the tasks' stimuli, or stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA), was varied. Brake reaction times increased as SOA was reduced, showing the psychological refractory period effect, whereas the choice task showed large effects of the stimulus and response modalities but only a small effect of SOA. The authors explain the central-bottleneck (CB) hypothesis which states that certain central mental operations cannot be performed in parallel. The overall goal of this study was to determine whether CB phenomena generalize to the real-world activity of driving. The results demonstrate that a well-practiced "simple" task such as vehicle braking is indeed subject to dual-task slowing and extend the generality of the central-bottleneck model. The data clearly demonstrate that performing another task, even a trivial one, can cause substantial slowing in the braking response.

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Levy, Jonathan
    • Pashler, Harold
    • Boer, Erwin
  • Publication Date: 2006


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 228-235
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01054691
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 30 2007 6:30PM