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Mitigation of Three Types of Stress on Cognitive Performance

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McBride DK. Mitigation of three types of stress on cognitive performance. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78(5, Suppl.):B12–B14.

The development of reliable and valid generalizations about real-world behavior, based on laboratory and simulation experiments, continues to be a major challenge in the applied behavioral sciences, particularly cognitive psychology. This challenge, and the tradeoff between reliability and generalizability, is discussed in light of the principal goal of applied science, which is successful generalization, in contrast to basic science, which is the generation of successful theory. Cognitive psychology has been successful in providing useful guidance for the design of performance enhancing techniques to mitigate the effects of stress that can be found in military operations and other applied settings. The manuscripts in this section on Cognitive Foundations of Human Information Processing address three types of stress occurring in the operational environment—sleep deprivation, cognitive load, and physical exertion—and options that may aid in monitoring or counteracting their negative effects. Separately, the manuscripts focus on: the impairing effects of total sleep deprivation on attention versus cognitively demanding tasks, as well as language-based tasks and the utility of short probe tasks to monitor these effects; cognitive load during driving and the ability of supplemental cues to improve performance and subjective questionnaires to assess load status; and the degrading effects of physical exertion on vigilance aspects of cognitive performance and its implications in the military environment. In concluding remarks, based on Tinbergen’s four fundamental interrogatives, the need is underscored for the field of cognitive psychology to go beyond descriptive findings of human behavior into the realm of scientific explanatory answers.
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Keywords: applied science; cognitive load; cognitive psychology; generalizability; movement; physical exercise; reliability; sleep deprivation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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