While anecdotal reports suggest that Night Vision Goggles influence spatial navigation and wayfinding (Braithwaite Douglass, Durnford, & Lucas, 1998), few studies have systematically characterized the nature of these effects. To address this issue, the current study examined the impact of NVGs on navigation and wayfinding performance. One group of participants were required to navigate a walking maze and retrieve target objects while wearing NVGs (experimental condition), while a second control group navigated the maze without NVGs. We measured several performance metrics of navigation and wayfinding. Our results show that navigation and wayfinding with NVGs (experimental group) appeared to be harder, with longer navigation durations and more navigational errors compared to not using NVGs (control group). However, a significant decrease in navigation duration over the course of the wayfinding trials occurred earlier with NVGs, in addition to significant decreases in navigational steps compared to the control group. These results support the notion that NVGs directly affect spatial navigation and wayfinding performance. These degradations in performance should be considered in operational planning and NVG training programs. Further research is necessary to expand our understanding of the impact of NVGs on spatial cognition.

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Helmet- and Head-Mounted Displays XI: Technologies and Applications
Department of Psychology

Gauthier, M. (Michelle), Parush, A, Macuda, T. (Todd), Tang, D. (Denis), Craig, G. (Greg), & Jennings, S. (Sion). (2006). Spatial navigation using Night Vision Goggles. In Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering. doi:10.1117/12.663454