Workload Responses to Sensory-Motor Tasks Under Time Pressure in Life Sciences Labs: Effects of Task Complexity
Authors: Annika Riegera, Regina Stollb, Kerstin Thurowa, Matthias Weippertab
Abstract: The aim of this study was to assess workload response during a simulated pipetting task of different complexity under time pressure conditions. Thirty healthy volunteers (12 female / 18 male) gave their written informed consent to take part. After training they underwent a standardized test protocol including a baseline measurement (REST), a control pipetting condition under time pressure (CON), a complex pipetting task under time pressure (COMP), and recovery (RECOV). To avoid order effects pipetting tasks have been carried out in a counterbalanced order. Measurements included heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), breathing rate (BR), as well as diastolic and systolic blood pressure (DBP, SBP). NASA TLX was applied in order to assess perceived workload. There were minor, but significant elevations of HR, BR, SBP during CON and COMP when compared to REST and RECOV. However, with the exception of HRV measures, physiological data were not sensitive to variations in cognitive demands between the two pipetting conditions. Further, perceived mental effort differed significantly between CON and COMP and thus mirrored the different complexity of tasks. It can be concluded that the addition of cognitive demands under sensory-motor demands can be reflected by some HRV indices and subjective workload ratings but not by HR, BR and BP.
Keywords: Life science automation, physiological workload response, heart rate, blood pressure, pipetting, time pressure, task complexity, NASA Task Load Index
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