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Effect of Various Environmental Stressors on Target Detection, Identification, and Marksmanship

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Technical rept.

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The advent of high resolution interactive simulation has made it possible to bring greater realism into the laboratory where experimental rigour is more easily controlled than in a field setting. Using a small arms trainer SAT, the detection, identification, and engagement of targets were tested under a variety of environmentally stressful conditions including heat and cold exposure, noise, fatiguing exercise, and sleep deprivation, with caffeine intervention applied in the latter two trials. Additional investigations on the efficacy of a monetary incentive on individual performance, and on differences between individual and team performances were also conducted during the noise study. Target presentations were randomized and varied from standing pop-ups to moving figures of both foe and friendly types appearing seldom or frequently. Performance was judged according to the number of targets detected, correct target identifications, and marksmanship. Surprisingly, none of the physiological strains caused any serious degradation in performance except fatigue, which adversely affected target detection but not when caffeine was ingested to alleviated the fatigue. Generally, once a target had been detected with or without fatigue, its engagement, which required intense but short-term focus i.e., 6 s or less, was competently managed under significant levels of physiological strain, as if the act of detecting a target obviated the strain. The monetary incentive during the noise study failed to improve performance, which validated the use of the SAT in so far as extracting a best effort is concerned.

Subject Categories:

  • Stress Physiology
  • Target Direction, Range and Position Finding

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