Author(s): Ullsperger P, Freude G, Erdmann U
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Abstract The goal of this study was to explore the utility of parameters of ERPs for assessment of mental workload during performance of complex tasks. In addition to a baseline auditory oddball task, 15 healthy adult volunteers performed gauge monitoring (Gauge) and mental arithmetic (Math) separately and together. Throughout the task performance three types of auditory stimuli were presented as probes, i.e. 80\% 1000 Hz tones, 10\% 2000 Hz tones and 10\% novel sounds. The ERP components N1 and P3 were analysed, which are assumed to reflect perceptive and central processing resources. The results interpreted in the framework of capacity theory indicate high demand on processing resources already during separate performance of both tasks Gauge or Math. During simultaneous performance the workload on average exceeded the limits of processing capacity: the performance data impaired significantly. The ERP measures N1 and P3 were confirmed in their sensitivity and diagnosticity. By using novel sounds as probes with involuntary attention-capturing properties, one might overcome a problem of the irrelevant probe technique, i.e. whether the operator spends his spare capacity for processing of the irrelevant probes.
This article was published in Int J Psychophysiol
and referenced in Bioenergetics: Open Access