Objective: This study examined the effects of night vision goggles (NVGs) on navigation and way-finding performance and the acquisition of spatial knowledge. Background: Although numerous studies have examined the effects of NVGs on visual perception, few have examined the effects of using NVGs on the acquisition and expression of spatial cognition. Method: Participants learned the environment through active navigation and way finding, searching for targets within a life-sized maze with or without NVGs. Knowledge of the environment was then tested with two spatial memory tests. Results: Findings show that navigation and way finding with NVGs appear to be harder, as indicated by longer navigation times and additional, unnecessary turns, than they are without NVGs. Moreover, change in navigation performance over the course of the way-finding trials varied as a function of group assignment indicating that NVGs influenced the learning process. NVG users demonstrated a significant decrease in navigation times earlier as well as significant decreases in navigational legs compared with the control group. In judging the positions of objects relative to target objects in different rooms in the maze, performance was better for participants without NVGs than for those with NVGs. In a map-drawing task, participants in the NVG group were more likely to position objects incorrectly and to receive worse scores than the controls. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that NVGs affected not only spatial navigation and way-finding performance but also the acquisition of spatial knowledge. Application: These degradations in spatial knowledge should be considered in operational planning and NVG training programs. Copyright

Human Factors
Department of Psychology

Gauthier, M.S. (Michelle Sylvia), Parush, A, Macuda, T. (Todd), Tang, D. (Denis), Craig, G. (Gregory), & Jennings, S. (Sion). (2008). The impact of night vision goggles on way-finding performance and the acquisition of spatial knowledge. Human Factors, 50(2), 311–321. doi:10.1518/001872008X288295