Effects of the periodic administration of odor or vibration on a 3-hr. vigilance task.


The present study examined performance during 3 hr. of simulated sentry duty with and without the intermittent administration of low-level sensory stimuli (odor or vibration). For odor and control conditions, target-detection latency increased steadily over the course of the 3-hr. session. Administration of a tactile stimulus reduced the increase in detection latency compared to that found in odor and control conditions. For all conditions, there were no significant differences in target-detection frequency, shot accuracy, or friend-foe discrimination. Across all conditions, restlessness (motor activity) increased significantly the first hour and remained elevated for the rest of the session. Subjective measures of workload (NASA-TLX) indicated that the 3-hr. task rated high on physical demand, mental demand, frustration, and overall workload. These findings suggest that the intermittent delivery of a clearly detectable tactile stimulus can reduce reaction-time decrements that occur as time on task increases.


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