Performance Recovery Following Startle: A Laboratory Approach to the Study of Behavioral Response to Sudden Aircraft Emergencies
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON DC OFFICE OF AVIATION MEDICINE
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This paper deals with the use of responserecovery rate to auditory startle as a laboratory technique for simulating some of the principal aspects of the initial shock phase of sudden emergency situations. It is submitted that auditory startle, with its unexpectedness, pronounced autonomic reaction, fear- like subjective experience, and frequent behavioral disruption, approximates the response pattern to be expected in the initial shock phase of sudden traumatic emergencies, and that by studying the time course of performance recovery following startle, as well as individual differences in responserecovery rate, we may gain a better understanding of some of the variables related to extreme reactions displayed by individuals in real-life emergency situations. Research studies conducted in our laboratory and in others on performance impairment recovery following startle are reviewed. These studies include those dealing with initial reaction time to the startle stimulus itself, disruption and recovery rate of perceptual-motor tracking performance following startle, and the time-course of performance recovery in information processing tasks after exposure to startle. Data are also presented showing a relationship of several individual difference variables to performance responserecovery following startle. These variables include autonomic response to the startle stimulus and level of task proficiency prior to startle. Keywords Accidents Emergency behavior Response time Startle Unexpectedness.
- Military Aircraft Operations