Expertise on Cognitive Workloads and Performance During Navigation and Target Detection
Neboshynsky, Christopher M.
Yang, Ji Hyun
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Todays military pilots are required to perform multiple tasks simultaneously, including maintaining control of the aircraft, navigating, communicating, and detecting targets. Mental workload may affect a pilots ability to effectively learn to manage these tasks. Studies have shown that there are certain involuntary, physiological changes in eye gaze patterns, such as blink rate, frequency of fixations, and saccade rate that indicate increased mental workload. We hypothesize that experienced pilots, defined by total flight hours, would show more efficient eye scan patterns (higher frequency of fixations, lower dwell durations, and higher frequency of saccades per minute) during simulated tasks that required navigation and target detection and identification (tD&I). This would therefore lead to better performance in tD&I tasks. Fourteen active duty military pilots completed three different scenarios while operating the flight controls in a helicopter flight simulator overland navigation, tD&I while on autopilot, and tD&I while completing overland navigation. Eyetracking data were collected while the pilots completed the scenarios. Flight experience did not correlate to scan pattern or task performance. It did, however, show an interaction with cognitive workload as judged by blink rate. Results indicate that implementing eyetracking information into current aviation training programs could improve training effectiveness and efficiency.
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