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Color Vision and Performance on Color-Coded Cockpit Displays

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INTRODUCTION: Although there are numerous studies that demonstrate that color vision deficient (CVD) individuals perform less well than color vision normal (CVN) individuals in tasks that require discrimination or identification of colored stimuli, there remains a need to quantify the relationship between the type and severity of CVD and performance on operationally relevant tasks.

METHODS: Participants were classified as CVN (N = 45) or CVD (N = 49) using the Rabin cone contrast test, which is the standard color vision screening test used by the United States Air Force. In the color condition, test images that were representative of the size, shape, and color of symbols and lines used on fifth-generation fighter aircraft displays were used to measure operational performance. In the achromatic condition, all symbols and lines had the same chromaticity but differed in luminance. Subjects were asked to locate and discriminate between friend vs. foe symbols (red vs. green, or brighter vs. dimmer) while speed and accuracy were recorded.

RESULTS: Increasing color deficiency was associated with decreasing speed and accuracy for the color condition (R2 > 0.2), but not for the achromatic condition. Mean differences between CVN and CVD individuals showed the same pattern.

DISCUSSION: Although lower CCT scores are clearly associated with lower performance in color related tasks, the magnitude of the performance loss was relatively small and there were multiple examples of high-performing CVD individuals who had higher operational scores than low-performing CVN individuals.

Gaska JP, Wright ST, Winterbottom MD, Hadley SC. Color vision and performance on color-coded cockpit displays. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(11):921–927.
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Keywords: color displays; color vision; operational performance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Aeromedical Research Department, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, USA

Publication date: 2016-11-01

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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