What is it about?

Driver attention during locomotion is an important safety issue that concerns general public and most car manufacturers. This study addressed a long-standing question of how divided attention affects the control of steering toward a goal with different travel speeds.

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Why is it important?

The findings of the current study not only help resolve a long theoretical debate in the field about the primary cue for the visual control of locomotion but also directly answer the question how divided attention affects the control of locomotion and provide guidelines for safety practices in locomotion control. The key results are: (1) people have more difficulty with handling a high attention-demanding task at a driving than a walking speed, (2) the increase in attentional load negatively affects both the early-stage and the steady-state control of steering toward a goal, (3) people in general rely on both target egocentric direction and optic flow to steer toward a goal even when they need to simultaneously perform a high attention-demanding task, and (4) compared with optic flow, the visual control of steering toward a goal relying on target egocentric direction is less affected by a secondary attentional-demanding task.


Daily locomotion tasks such as walking and driving often occur in a complex environment in which people frequently need to divide their attention to keep track of multiple moving objects. In this article, we investigated how divided attention affects the control of goal-oriented locomotion, a common task people encounter frequently in daily life. I hope the readers will find the results are directly relevant to what they experience in daily locomotion tasks and can help them drive more safely.

Li Li
NYU Shanghai

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effects of divided attention on visual control of steering toward a goal., Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance, April 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xhp0001010.
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