The Effect of Mild Motion Sickness and Sopite Syndrome on Multitasking Cognitive Performance
McCauley, Michael E.
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This research investigated the effects of mild motion sickness and sopite syndrome on multitasking cognitive performance. Fifty-one healthy individuals (45 males, 6 females) were recruited in three data collection periods from the pool of Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) students, faculty, and staff. Participants from the 2010 and 2011 data collection periods were randomly assigned to one of two groups, M-NM (n=20, motion in the first session, no motion in the second) or NM-M (n=19, no motion in the first session, motion in the second). All participants (n=12) from the 2012 data collection were assigned to group NM-NM and did not experience motion in either session. On average, reported severity of motion sickness was mild. In this study, cognitive multitasking performance deteriorated with the development of mild motion sickness; however, this result was confounded by an order effect. Performance differences between Symptomatic and Asymptomatic participants in composite (9.43%), memory (31.7%), and arithmetic (14.7%) task scores were significant only in the second experimental session. Furthermore, results suggest that performance retention between sessions in a novel cognitive multitasking environment is not affected by mild motion sickness. We postulate that the differential effect of session on the association between symptomatology and multitasking performance may be related to the attentional resources allocated to performing the multi-task. Results suggest an inverse relationship between motion sickness effects on performance and the cognitive effort focused on performing a task. Lastly, a revised definition of sopite syndrome is proposed, addressing the limitations of earlier approaches.
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