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Attention and Task Complexity as Indicated by Physiological Indices.

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Final rept.,

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The objective of this research was to develop physiological measures of pilot attention and workload for use in flight simulation research studies. In later studies, these physiological measures will then be used in conjunction with behavioral measures of pilot attention and task difficulty in order to optimally structure flight simulation training programs and equipment. This research employed two common behavioral information processing tasks in order to study four physiological variables, namely, heart rate, skin conductance, eye movement, and cortical evoked response, as measures of attention and arousal. Four separate information processing experiments were conducted involving both choice reaction time and letter matching tasks. For the choice reaction time tasks, the faster responses were in general associated with increased measures of arousal as indicated by heart rate, skin conductance, and evoked potential amplitude. There was no general arousal effect produced for the letter matching tasks however, the cortical evoked response varied systematically and reliabily with task difficulty and reaction time. In this regard, simple decisions evoked short latency low amplitude brain waves, while more difficult decisions evoked longer latency, higher amplitude brain waves. Thus, the heart rate and skin conductance measures of arousal reflected, in a gross sense, the degree of subject involvement in the task, and the evoked potential components varied reliably with task difficulty and performance. Author

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  • Psychology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

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