Impairment of Shooting Performance by Background Complexity and Motion

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In many visual displays such as virtual environments, human tasks involve objects superimposed on both complex and moving backgrounds. However, most studies investigated the influence of background complexity or background motion in isolation. Two experiments were designed to investigate the joint influences of background complexity and lateral motion on a simple shooting task typical of video games. Participants had to perform the task on the moving and static versions of backgrounds of three levels of complexity, while their eye movements were recorded. The backgrounds displayed either an abstract (Experiment 1) or a naturalistic (Experiment 2) virtual environment. The results showed that performance was impaired by background motion in both experiments. The effects of motion and complexity were additive for the abstract background and multiplicative for the naturalistic background. Eye movement recordings showed that performance impairments reflected at least in part the impact of the background visual features on gaze control.

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