Recent research has shown that holding telephone conversations disrupts one's driving ability. We asked whether this effect could be attributed to a visual attention impairment. In Experiment 1, participants conversed on a telephone or listened to a narrative while engaged in multiple object tracking (MOT), a task requiring sustained visual attention. We found that MOT was disrupted in the telephone conversation condition, relative to single-task MOT performance, but that listening to a narrative had no effect. In Experiment 2, we asked which component of conversation might be interfering with MOT performance. We replicated the conversation and single-task conditions of Experiment 1 and added two conditions in which participants heard a sequence of words over a telephone. In the shadowing condition, participants simply repeated each word in the sequence. In the generation condition, participants were asked to generate a new word based on each word in the sequence. Word generation interfered with MOT performance, but shadowing did not. The data indicate that telephone conversation disrupts attention at a central stage, the act of generating verbal stimuli, rather than at a peripheral stage, such as listening or speaking. \ud \u
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.