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Task Performance and Eye Activity: Predicting Behavior Relating to Cognitive Workload

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Tsai Y-F, Viirre E, Strychacz C, Chase B, Jung T-P. Task performance and eye activity: predicting behavior relating to cognitive workload. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78(5, Suppl.):B176–B85.

Introduction: The focus of this study was to examine oculomotor behavioral changes while subjects performed auditory and driving tasks. Methods: There were 13 participants who completed 3 10-min tasks consisting of driving only, the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT) only, and a dual task of both driving and auditory tasks. For each participant, changes in six measures were assessed as a function of cognitive workload, specifically changes in eye activity, including blink frequency, blink duration, fixation frequency, fixation duration, pupil diameter, and horizontal vergence. In addition, deviations in lateral lane position were assessed as a measure of driving behavior. Results: Compared with the subjects’ behavior in the driving-only task, results showed an increase in blink frequency during the combined driving and auditory task. Also, during the dual task the mean pupil diameter and horizontal vergence increased when subjects performed well in the auditory task in contrast to when the subjects performed poorly. Evidence of visual tunneling or reduced range of scanning and decreases in rearview mirror and odometer glances appeared when subjects performed the driving and auditory dual task. There was no significant change in fixation frequency. However, decreased fixation duration appeared to predict upcoming errors in the auditory task. Pupil diameter changes were significantly higher when performing well on the auditory task than when subjects were performing poorly. Conclusion: Eye behavior trends reported in this study may provide insight to human behavior corresponding with cognitive workload, which may in turn be utilized to produce reliable workload indicators and applications that predict poor performance in real time.
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Keywords: Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task; blinks; driving simulation; oculomotor assessment; pupillometry

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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