Cognitive Performance and Physiological Changes under Heavy Load Carriage
PACIFIC SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING GROUP INC SAN DIEGO CA
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This study was designed to examine the relationship between load carriage, cognitive performance, and perceived workload. Participants carried equipment typically worn in combat, walked on a treadmill simulating a dismounted patrol for two hours, and concurrently performed a series of cognitive tasks similar to those required in combat e.g., detection, recognition, working spatial memory, and communication. All participants completed three two-hour sessions wearing a 0, 98 or 135 lb combat load. Physiology kcals highly correlated r 68, p .01 with subjective rating of strenuousness. Results show that infantrymen can maintain a high level of physical performance over time but at a cost to cognitive performance p .05. In addition, and potentially of great operational significance, is that after removing the 135 lb weight and resting for 5 minutes, cognitive performance did not return to baseline levels. Potential mitigations and implications of these results will be discussed.
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