When looking isn't seeing: Is cockpit design flawed?

"All previous experimental approaches of this type, including some of our own, have only fully stimulated the parvocellular-ventral pathway, whilst ignoring or under stimulating the magnocellular-dorsal process," says Dr. Davis. "This has led to results that show improved performance for single object, multi-feature displays. By reassessing our experimental design to equally stimulate the two pathways we find that multi-object displays often result in better performance."

Dr. Davis's results indicate that stimulation of the magnocellular-dorsal process significantly enhances performance for multi-object displays. The magnocellular-dorsal process is most readily activated by flickering displays and is sensitive even to low contrast, monochromatic objects. In contrast many current displays are non-flickering coloured and are constructed from thin outline symbols. These primarily activate the parvocellular-ventral pathway and do not yield the same performance benefits as displays that activate the magnocellular-dorsal pathway.

"Getting the right information to a pilot is critically important," concludes Dr. Davis. "The most stressful time for a naval pilot is not combat but landing his or her plane on the moving deck of an aircraft carrier. The safety of pilot and crew relies on the right information stimulating the correct action. The same general issues also apply to road vehicles."


Contact: Tim Reynolds
Royal Society

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