COMPARISON OF PHYSIOLOGICAL AND COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE IN F-22 PILOTS DURING THE TRANSITION FROM DAY TO NIGHT FLYING OPERATIONS
Shattuck, Nita L.
Heissel, Jennifer A.
Whitaker, Lyn R.
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This thesis investigated the changes in physiological and cognitive performance as F-22 pilots transitioned short term to night-flying weeks using salivary markers of stress, cortisol and alpha amylase, wrist activity monitors, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Task Load Index (NASA-TLX), and a go/no-go (GNG) developed by Naval Medical Research Unit at Dayton. Seventeen fully qualified F-22 pilots took part in the two-week study. We found no differences in GNG reaction time or accuracy, NASA-TLX scores, or sleep quantity as participants transitioned to night-flying weeks. Sample cortisol levels were significantly higher than civilian levels in all experimental conditions and control days. Researchers fitted a unique participant cortisol curve and found higher-than-predicted participant cortisol levels post-flight in the day-flying condition and lower-than-predicted participant levels post-flight in the night-flying condition. Two negative relationships, F-22 experience by the magnitude of cortisol change (pre- to post-flight) in the day-flying condition and age by Perceived Stress Survey scores, suggested stress adaptation in the F-22 community. We thought that the night-flying environment would be more stressful on the aviator. While more research is required to support the results found in this study, it appeared that day flying is more stressful.
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