A Hands-Free, Visual Search Task Featuring Scalable Cognitive Challenge Based Upon the U.S. Army Trail Making Test
ARMY AEROMEDICAL RESEARCH LAB FORT RUCKER AL FORT RUCKER United States
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The U.S. Aeromedical Research Laboratory has developed a hands-free task USAARL-TMT designed to induce discrete and measurable levels of cognitive workload. Eye position, gaze location, and pupil dynamics are potential measures to meet this recognized need to measure defined levels of cognitive workload. Inspired by the Trail Making Test, first introduced in the U.S. Army Individual Test Battery in 1944, the USAARL-TMT combined with eye tracking features scalable difficulty, rapid delivery, and the functional flexibility potentially useful in a variety of operational and simulation platforms. Increasing task difficulty involved increasing the incidence of only two mechanisms of task manipulation. Increasing the frequency of changes in the categorical cue and introducing an interrupt cue significantly increased trial completion time and pupil size. These findings confirm both that the USAARL-TMT is able to manipulate cognitive workload, and that it is able to generate the expected physiological responses to the changes in cognitive effort required to successfully navigate the task at each level of difficulty. This instrument may prove a critical tool in the evaluation and validation of future algorithms and metrics designed to measure the cognitive workload of service members in the operational environment.