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The Predation Game : Does dividing attention affect patterns of human foraging?

The Predation Game : Does dividing attention affect patterns of human foraging?


Title: The Predation Game : Does dividing attention affect patterns of human foraging?
Author: Thornton, Ian M.
Tagu, Jérôme
Zdravković, Sunčica
Kristjánsson, Árni
Date: 2021-05-06
Language: English
Scope: 35
Department: Faculty of Psychology
Series: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications; 6(1)
ISSN: 2365-7464
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-021-00299-w
Subject: Athygli; Atferli; Sjónskynjun; Divided attention; Dual-task; Foraging; Multiple target search; Multiple-object tracking; Predation; Visual search; Predatory Behavior; Movement; Humans; Attention; Animals; Wolves; Sheep; Reward; Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/3144

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Citation:

Thornton , I M , Tagu , J , Zdravković , S & Kristjánsson , Á 2021 , ' The Predation Game : Does dividing attention affect patterns of human foraging? ' , Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications , vol. 6 , no. 1 , 35 , pp. 35 . https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-021-00299-w

Abstract:

Attention is known to play an important role in shaping the behaviour of both human and animal foragers. Here, in three experiments, we built on previous interactive tasks to create an online foraging game for studying divided attention in human participants exposed to the (simulated) risk of predation. Participants used a “sheep” icon to collect items from different target categories randomly distributed across the display. Each trial also contained “wolf” objects, whose movement was inspired by classic studies of multiple object tracking. When participants needed to physically avoid the wolves, foraging patterns changed, with an increased tendency to switch between target categories and a decreased ability to prioritise high reward targets, relative to participants who could safely ignore them. However, when the wolves became dangerous by periodically changing form (briefly having big eyes) instead of by approaching the sheep, foraging patterns were unaffected. Spatial disruption caused by the need to rapidly shift position—rather the cost of reallocating attention—therefore appears to influence foraging in this context. These results thus confirm that participants can efficiently alternate between target selection and tracking moving objects, replicating earlier single-target search findings. Future studies may need to increase the perceived risk or potential costs associated with simulated danger, in order to elicit the extended run behaviour predicted by animal models of foraging, but absent in the current data.

Description:

Funding text IMT’s research is supported by the Academic Work Resource Fund and the University Research Fund of the University of Malta. AK was supported by the Icelandic Research Fund (Grant #152427) as well as a grant from the Research Fund of the University of Iceland. JT was also supported by the Icelandic Research Fund (Grant # 206744-051). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).

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