The effects of age, sleep deprivation, and altitude on complex performance.
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The effects of age, sleep deprivation, and altitude on complex performance.

Filetype[PDF-1.18 MB]


  • English

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    • NTL Classification:
      NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Human Factors ; NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Safety/Airworthiness ; NTL-SAFETY AND SECURITY-Aviation Safety/Airworthiness ;
    • Abstract:
      Little research has been concerned with the combined effects on performance of age, sleep deprivation, and altitude. This study examined their potential interaction with laboratory tasks measuring aviation-related psychological functions.

      Healthy men in two age groups, 30-39 yr (N=16) and 60- 69 yr (N=14), were evaluated for complex (time-shared) performance in the four possible combinations of two altitudes (ground level vs. 3,810 m (12,500 ft)) and two sleep conditions (sleep permitted vs. sleep deprived). Following training, performance was evaluated during 3-h test sessions in the morning and afternoon of each of 4 test days. Complex performance, measured by the Multiple Task Performance Battery (MTPB), included: monitoring of warning lights and meters, mental arithmetic, problem solving, target identification, and tracking. Workload was varied within each hour by varying the tasks performed simultaneously.

      Performance was significantly lower in the older subjects, but age did not interact significantly with sleep deprivation or altitude. When subjects were rested, altitude had no effect. When subjects were sleep deprived, performance was significantly lower in general, and the greatest decrement in performance occurred at altitude. Increasing workload enhanced the interaction of sleep deprivation and altitude. The performance of older subjects tended to be more affected by increases in workload, but decrements induced by sleep deprivation and altitude did not appear to interact with age.

      These findings provide empirical evidence in support of warnings in the aeromedical literature concerning greater effects of sleep deprivation as altitude increases within the general aviation range.

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