Effect of varying levels of mental workload on startle eyeblink modulation

Neumann, DL (2002) Effect of varying levels of mental workload on startle eyeblink modulation. Ergonomics, 45 8: 583-602. doi:10.1080/00140130210148546

Author Neumann, DL
Title Effect of varying levels of mental workload on startle eyeblink modulation
Journal name Ergonomics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0014-0139
Publication date 2002-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/00140130210148546
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 45
Issue 8
Start page 583
End page 602
Total pages 20
Editor R Stammers
Place of publication UK
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Language eng
Subject C1
380103 Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)
Abstract Previous research using punctuate reaction time and counting tasks has found that the startle eyeblink reflex is sensitive to attentional demands. The present experiment explored whether startle eyeblink is also modulated during a complex continuous task and is sensitive to different levels of mental workload. Participants (N=14) performed a visual horizontal tracking task either alone (single-task condition) or in combination with a visual gauge monitoring task (multiple-task condition) for three minutes. On some task trials, the startle eyeblink reflex was elicited by a noise burst. Results showed that startle eyeblink was attenuated during both tasks and that the attenuation was greater during the multiple-task condition than during the single-task condition. Subjective ratings, endogenous eyeblink rate, heart period, and heart period variability provided convergent validity of the workload manipulations. The findings suggest that the startle eyeblink is sensitive to the workload demands associated with a continuous visual task. The application of startle eyeblink modulation as a workload metric and the possibility that it may be diagnostic of workload demands in different stimulus modalities is discussed.
Keyword Engineering, Industrial
Psychology, Applied
Startle Reflex
Mental Workload
Heart Period
Blink Rate
Selective Attention
Reflex Modification
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 29 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 31 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 04:12:20 EST