Useful field of view

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In human vision, the useful field of view (or UFOV) is the visual area over which information can be extracted at a brief glance without eye or head movements.[1] Generally UFOV size decreases with age,[2] most likely due to decreases in visual processing speed, reduced attentional resources, and less ability to ignore distracting information.[1] UFOV performance is correlated with a number of important real-world functions including risk of an automobile crash. Performance can be improved by computer-based training.


UFOV assessment and training programs were primarily developed by Dr. Karlene Ball of the University of Birmingham, Alabama, and Dr. Daniel Roenker of Western Kentucky University. The first versions of the assessment and training programs were produced more than 20 years ago at Northwestern University by Professor Robert Sekuler and Karlene Ball.[3] These programs were originally made available through Visual Awareness Inc. In 2008, Posit Science acquired Visual Awareness and worked with Dr. Ball and Dr. Roenker to produce an updated version of UFOV training. The latest version is known as Road Tour or Double Decision and is incorporated into Posit Science’s DriveSharp[4] and BrainHQ[5] training programs.

UFOV assessment[edit]

The traditional UFOV assessment is a computer-based visual test containing three subtests.

1. Processing Speed: Determines a person’s threshold for discriminating stimuli presented in central vision.

2. Divided Attention: Same as Subtest 1 but with the addition of a concurrent peripheral target location task.

3. Selective Attention: Same as Subtest 2 but with the addition of distracters.

The threshold scores are combined to produce an overall performance score.

Performance on the UFOV assessment is correlated with a number of real-world functions including driving and walking. Here are some examples:

  • Several studies have shown that a reduction in UFOV is correlated with an increased risk of an automobile accident with poor performers being about twice as likely to have an automobile crash than good performers.[6]
  • Drivers with poor UFOV performance take longer to cross intersections and initiate crossing later.[7]
  • The UFOV assessment is one of the best visual or cognitive predictors of crash rates surpassing the visual acuity tests (used at most Department of Motor Vehicle test sites).[8]
  • Poor UFOV performers have more collisions during obstacle navigation while walking.[9]
  • People with poor UFOV performance have higher rates of injurious falls.[10]

UFOV training[edit]

UFOV performance can be improved by computer-based training.[11] Multiple studies have shown that improved UFOV performance generalizes to a number of real-world functions. UFOV training has been shown to:

  • Reduce dangerous driving maneuvers by 36% when measured 18 months following training.[12] The same study showed faster reaction times equating to an additional 22 feet more stopping distance at 55 mph.
  • Reduce at-fault automobile crashes by 51% in the five period following training.[13]
  • Reduce risk of driving cessation by 40%.[14]
  • Help maintain driving distance and driving in difficult situations such as in the dark, in rain, and in rush hour traffic.[15]
  • Reduce the risk of serious health-related quality of life decline measured at 2 and 5 years.[16]
  • Reduce subsequent annual predicted medical care expenditures at one-year (by $244) and five years (by $143 p.a.).[17]
  • Reduce decline in instrumental activities of daily living measured at 5 yrs post UFOV training.[18]
  • Reduce risk of onset of clinically significant depressive symptoms by 38% measured at 1 year follow-up.[19]
  • Improve performance on timed activities of daily living such as reading medicine instructions, counting change, looking up a phone number and finding items in a cupboard.[20]

Note: UFOV is not the same as a visual field or perimetry test that examines the ability of the visual system to processes light falling on various regions of the retina. Perimetry tests check for the integrity of the visual system while UFOV tests a person’s ability to pay attention to information in the visual field particularly when under situations of increased attentional demand.


  1. ^ a b Ball, K., V.G. Wadley, and J.D. Edwards, Advances in technology used to assess and retrain older drivers. Gerontechnology, 2002. 1(4): p. 251-261.
  2. ^ Sekuler, A.B., P.J. Bennett, and M. Mamelak, Effects of aging on the useful field of view. Exp Aging Res, 2000. 26(2): p. 103-20.
  3. ^ Sekuler, R. and K. Ball, Visual localization: age and practice. J Opt Soc Am A, 1986. 3(6): p. 864-7; Ball, K.K., et al., Age and visual search: expanding the useful field of view. J Opt Soc Am A, 1988. 5(12): p. 2210-9.
  4. ^ "Drivesharp - Think Faster on the Road - Posit Science - Your Brain Health Headquarters".
  5. ^ "Attention to Detail Exercises, Double Decision Exercise - Posit Science". Brain Exercises, Brain Fitness, Brain Training - BrainHQ from Posit Science.
  6. ^ Ball, K. and C. Owsley, Identifying correlates of accident involvement for the older driver. Hum Factors, 1991. 33(5): p. 583-95.; Ball, K., C. Owsley, and M. Sloane, Visual and cognitive predictors of driving problems in older adults. Exp Aging Res, 1991. 17(2): p. 79-80.; Ball, K., et al., Visual attention problems as a predictor of vehicle crashes in older drivers. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 1993. 34(11): p. 3110-23.; Goode, K.T., et al., Useful Field of View and Other Neurocognitive Indicators of Crash Risk in Older Adults. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 1998. 05(4): p. 425-440.
  7. ^ Pietras, T.A., et al., Traffic-entry behavior and crash risk for older drivers with impairment of selective attention. Percept Mot Skills, 2006. 102(3): p. 632-44.
  8. ^ Owsley, C., et al., Visual risk factors for crash involvement in older drivers with cataract. Arch Ophthalmol, 2001. 119(6): p. 881-7.; Owsley, C., et al., Visual processing impairment and risk of motor vehicle crash among older adults. JAMA, 1998. 279(14): p. 1083-8.
  9. ^ Broman, A.T., et al., Divided visual attention as a predictor of bumping while walking: the Salisbury Eye Evaluation. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2004. 45(9): p. 2955-60.
  10. ^ Vance, D.E., et al., Predictors of falling in older Maryland drivers: a structural-equation model. J Aging Phys Act, 2006. 14(3): p. 254-69.
  11. ^ Ball, K., et al., Effects of cognitive training interventions with older adults: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 2002. 288(18): p. 2271-81.
  12. ^ Roenker, D.L., et al., Speed-of-processing and driving simulator training result in improved driving performance. Hum Factors, 2003. 45(2): p. 218-33.
  13. ^ Ball, K., et al., The Effects of Training on Driving Competence – Crash Risk, in Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. 2009: Washington DC, USA.
  14. ^ Edwards, J.D., P.B. Delahunt, and H.W. Mahncke, Cognitive Speed of Processing Training Delays Driving Cessation. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2009.
  15. ^ Edwards, J.D., et al., The Longitudinal Impact of Cognitive Speed of Processing Training on Driving Mobility. Gerontologist, 2009.
  16. ^ Wolinsky, F.D., et al., The ACTIVE cognitive training trial and health-related quality of life: protection that lasts for 5 years. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2006. 61(12): p. 1324-9.; Wolinsky, F.D., et al., The effects of the ACTIVE cognitive training trial on clinically relevant declines in health-related quality of life. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci, 2006. 61(5): p. S281-7.
  17. ^ Wolinsky, F.D., et al., The ACTIVE cognitive training trial and predicted medical expenditures. BMC Health Serv Res, 2009. 9: p. 109.
  18. ^ Willis, S.L., et al., Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. JAMA, 2006. 296(23): p. 2805-14.
  19. ^ Wolinsky, F.D., et al., The effect of speed-of-processing training on depressive symptoms in ACTIVE. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2009. 64(4): p. 468-72.
  20. ^ Edwards, J.D., et al., The impact of speed of processing training on cognitive and everyday performance. Aging Ment Health, 2005. 9(3): p. 262-71.; Edwards, J.D., et al., Transfer of a speed of processing intervention to near and far cognitive functions. Gerontology, 2002. 48(5): p. 329-40.