The Effects of Visual Attention on Information Processing in Two-alternative Forced Choice Tasks
: A Mouse Tracking Investigation

  • Sarah H Taylor

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The first part of this thesis investigated the dynamics of visual attention. Traditional performance measures include error rates or response times; however, in this thesis computer mouse tracking was used to provide response times as well as initiation times and response trajectories (including maximum deviation and area under the curve measures). Chapter 2 demonstrated that mouse tracking could be used effectively to replicate previous findings from a simple spatial orientating paradigm (Posner cueing); compared to the use of valid and neutral cues, when invalid cues were presented participants performance declined. Additionally, the analysis demonstrated that neutral cues resulted in increased hesitation at the start of each trial. Chapter 3 demonstrated that mouse tracking in conjunction visual search tasks could replicate previous findings that the inclusion of distractors decreased participants ability to discriminate the orientation of a target; and that the location of the target affected response trajectories. Chapter 4 investigated the role of manipulating the number of targets and cues in an orientation discrimination task. It was found that whilst increasing targets improved participants ability at target discrimination, cues were largely ignored. In order to investigate whether this was due to potential hemifield effects in the design, Chapter 5 demonstrated that a separate hemifield advantage existed only in tasks without distractors. The second part of thesis explored research that claimed movement could influence cognition. However, Chapters 6 demonstrated that it was difficult to replicate these findings and Chapter 7 demonstrated through the use of mouse tracking analysis that previous findings most likely resulted from the mere exposure effect. The overarching conclusion is that mouse tracking provides an easy low-cost methodology that is able to provide valuable information on low level cognitive processes.
Date of Award29 Sep 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorChris Kent (Supervisor)

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