The impact of breaks on sustained attention in a simulated, semi-automated train control task

Amelia Rees, Mark W. Wiggins*, William S. Helton, Thomas Loveday, David O'Hare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Summary: Sustained attention is a factor in many work environments where operators intervene on a regular basis to ensure the safety and security of a system. Different types of activity during break periods may facilitate different levels of performance following extended periods of attention in these environments. The impact of five different breaks from task activity was assessed against the performance of a no-break control group during a simulated, high signal probability rail control task. A total of 87 university students were assigned to a no-break control condition, or one of five break activity conditions that occurred between two, 20-minute periods of simulated rail control. Post-break, the analysis revealed that, in comparison to the control condition, performance was greater in all of the five break conditions. Any activity that drew operators' attention from the primary rail control task enabled improvements in performance beyond a no-break control task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-359
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

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