Effect of Interruptions on Route Recall Performance
Previous studies have displayed increased error rates and longer task completion times on primary tasks when participants were interrupted with a secondary task. This experiment utilized a virtual maze to examine the effect of an interruption on one’s memory for a previously learned route and manipulated when the interruption occurred to explore the effect of interruption timing on task performance. University students were asked to learn a route through a virtual maze by watching a first-person video of someone successfully navigating it twice. After which, they were guided along the maze and tested on their ability to recall the correct path at each intersection in the maze. During this testing phase, participants were interrupted either early, midway, late, or were not interrupted with a short reading task. The presence of an interruption did not affect the total number of errors made recalling the route or the time needed to complete the route. Similarly, the timing of the interruption did not affect the number of errors made or the time needed to complete the route. These results indicate that navigation in a virtual environment is not affected by interruptions, regardless of their timing. This may be due to landmarks in the environment aiding memory recall.