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Sensitivity of Subjective Questionnaires to Cognitive Loading While Driving with Navigation Aids: A Pilot Study

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Smyth CC. Sensitivity of subjective questionnaires to cognitive loading while driving with navigation aids: a pilot study. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78(5, Suppl.):B39–B50.

Introduction: Developers of future forces are implementing automated aiding for driving tasks. In designing such systems, the effect of cognitive task interference on driving performance is important. The crew of such vehicles may have to occasionally perform communication and planning tasks while driving. Subjective questionnaires may aid researchers to parse out the sources of task interference in crew station designs. Method: In this preliminary study, sixteen participants drove a vehicle simulator with automated road-turn cues (i.e., visual, audio, combined, or neither) along a course marked on a map display while replying to spoken test questions (i.e., repeating sentences, math and logical puzzles, route planning, or none) and reporting other vehicles in the scenario. Following each trial, a battery of subjective questionnaires was administered to determine the perceived effects of the loading on their cognitive functionality. Results: Considering the performance, the participants drove significantly faster with the road-turn cues than with just the map. They recalled fewer vehicle sightings with the cognitive tests than without them. Questionnaire results showed that their reasoning was more straightforward, the quantity of information for understanding higher, and the trust greater with the combined cues than the map-only. They reported higher perceived workload with the cognitive tests. The capacity for maintaining situational awareness was reduced with the cognitive tests because of the increased division of attention and the increase in the instability, variability, and complexity of the demands. The association and intuitiveness of cognitive processing were lowest and the subjective stress highest for the route planning test. Finally, the confusability in reasoning was greater for the auditory cue with the route planning than the auditory cue without the cognitive tests. Conclusion : The subjective questionnaires are sensitive to the effects of the cognitive loading and, therefore, may be useful for guiding the development of automated aid designs.
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Keywords: automated driving aids; cognitive compatibility; perceived workload; situational awareness; subjective stress; task interference

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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