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Age and Automation Interact to Influence Performance of a Simulated Luggage Screening Task

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Wiegmann D, McCarley JS, Kramer AF, Wickens CD. Age and automation interact to influence performance of a simulated luggage screening task. Aviat Space Environ Med 2006; 77:825–831.

Introduction: An experiment examined the impact of automation on young and old adults’ abilities to detect threat objects in a simulated baggage-screening task. Method: Younger and older adult participants viewed X-ray images of cluttered baggage, 20% of which contained a hidden knife. Some participants were provided an automated aid with a hit rate of 0.90 and a false alarm rate of 0.25. The aid provided assistance to participants in one of three forms: a text message that appeared before the stimulus image; a text message that appeared following the stimulus image; or a spatial cue concurrent with the stimulus image. Control participants performed the task with no assistance from an aid. Results: Spatial cuing improved performance for both age groups. Text cuing improved young adults’ performance, but had no benefit for older participants. Effects were similar whether the text cue preceded or followed the search stimulus itself. Discussion: Results indicate that spatial cuing rather than text alerts may be more effective in aiding performance during a baggage screening task and such benefits are likely to occur regardless of operator age.
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Keywords: aging; automation; decision making

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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