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PhD thesis

Author(s): Alexander D Walker
Year: 2010
School: Clemson University
File URL: vuams-pubs/PhD_Walker_clemson_2010.pdf
Abstract: The development of a team measure of autonomic activity has a wide variety of applications. During team training, an index of team autonomic activity could potentially have added value for real-time feedback, team selection and performance evaluation. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the relation between autonomic activity measures, workload, and performance, on both an individual and team level. Specifically, this study sought to determine whether changes in workload could be detected in measures of autonomic activity and whether changes in the autonomic measures related to changes in performance. 34 teams of two (35 males, 33 females) completed a processing plant simulation during 4 varying levels of individual and team difficulty. Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity was measured throughout the task using an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an impedance cardiogram (ICG), in addition to the NASA-TLX. SNS and PNS measures were combined to produce a team autonomic activity measure that was used to predict team workload and performance. Results showed that workload and performance varied across the task difficulty levels with higher difficulty producing higher workload and worse performance. Regressions conducted predicting team performance from team autonomic activity showed that team autonomic activity accounted for 10% of the variance in team performance scores. Further exploratory analyses showed interesting relations between autonomic activity and performance when examining the task difficulty levels separately. These analyses discovered that during the mixed individual difficulty levels, one team member's physiology was consistently correlated with the other team member's performance. In conclusion, the current study showed that team performance can be predicted from team autonomic activity, and that individual team member physiology has the potential to provide an index of team related behaviors (e.g. mutual performance monitoring and back-up behaviors).

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