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[Aug. 13th, 2015|05:37 pm]
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Here's a little javascript "game" I made (source at https://github.com/jcreedcmu/deconcentration) after reading about deconcentration of attention, a slightly kooky sounding but interesting notion that you can train yourself to "attend" to a large space of things instead of a single thing; or like that you can adjust the width of the attentional "spotlight" at least somehow. Where I start raising an eyebrow is when this notion of spotlight size reaches into the more conceptual and less physical notions of distance... but whatever. Cognitive psychological theorists gonna theorize. Seems a tricky domain for experimental design since "I am paying attention to X" is a pretty subjective-internal-mental-state kind of thing, or at least I feel inclined to say that as a naive outsider to the field. I'm sure people come up with more measurable surrogates/proxies for that.

Anyway, the game is, there are four circles at the corners of the page, and according as you see red squares at the positions
you add them up and type the corresponding hexidecimal character.

So that above is "d" because 1 + 4 + 8 = 13.

(I don't really do the math in my head, I just trained myself to memorize which patterns go with which keys.)

A prompt of which character you're supposed to type appears after 2 seconds, which has the interesting effect of making a pronounced difference of feeling between the "flow state" where you're always getting the right answer before that timer elapses and the broken/interrupted/crash/bzzt feeling of seeing the thing you're supposed to be typing.

The goal was to see if I could get into a mental state where I wasn't sweeping my fovea around to the four corners of the screen in serial but rather absorbing the gestalt of the screen in parallel. And... once or twice it kind of felt like that, very spaced out and automatic, and felt my finger going to the right key before I felt consciously aware of what I was looking at. Pretty weird and neat.

[User Picture]From: gregh1983
2015-08-15 01:39 am (UTC)
The goal was to see if I could get into a mental state where I wasn't sweeping my fovea around to the four corners of the screen in serial but rather absorbing the gestalt of the screen in parallel.

I don't know if you've ever tried it, but I think this is what must happen in order for someone to play DDR/ITG decently. Eventually there are too many arrows on the screen to really look at individually. (It would be like reading text or sheet music in the same sense.) The best rounds I ever play are the ones when I kind of zone out and let the right things happen on their own. "Weird and neat" is a great way to describe it :-)
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[User Picture]From: jcreed
2015-08-15 02:05 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah totally! The flow state of DDR did seem similar. This task seems a little bit more sharply-like-the-experience I was interested in, though, since DDR does at least visually privilege a certain part of the screen as the center of the action, namely the bit that represents the present moment of the arrow-flow. I mean, sure, you want your attentional focus --- if it had to be at any one fixed place --- to be somewhat above that so you can predict the foot motions you need to make, but you're anchored asymmetrically to the top of the screen in some basic sense. Here, all four corners are equally salient.
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From: eub
2015-08-15 07:49 am (UTC)
What angle does your screen subtend?
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[User Picture]From: jcreed
2015-08-15 02:22 pm (UTC)
Sitting 25" back from a 19" wide monitor gives me 2 arctan((19" / 2) / 25") = 41.613582 degrees.

Edited at 2015-08-15 03:41 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: jcreed
2015-08-15 03:40 pm (UTC)
https://www.siggraph.org/education/materials/HyperVis/vision/eye.htm implies that actual fovea is about a degree, and the region of maximum cone density is 20 degrees?
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