Validity and rationality of using neuroergonomics concept in exploring worker mental issues in systemic-activity theoretical research
Authors: Mohammed Aminu Sanda
Abstract: It is known fact that the brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Over the last few decades, mapping of the human brain connectivity to human activity has gained considerable attention not only in the areas of neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience, but also in the field of human factors and ergonomics. The field has benefitted greatly from the inclusion and integration of neuroscientific methods and theory, with the argument that synergistic success of such integration could work in the other direction with the inclusion of neuro-field methods and theory of human factors, such as neuro-psychology or neuroergonomics., which incorporates knowledge on workload measures and theory. Thus, the field of human factors and ergonomics has benefitted from the committed inclusion of neuro-based methods and techniques, and it continues to develop and advance in a variety of interesting ways. In this wise, continuous efforts in the neuroergonomics field have been devoted to studying brain signals relative to human systemic activity at work and in everyday settings. Though the number of useful analytical approaches used in neuroergonomics research has rapidly expanded, there is the argument that the functional brain connectivity and network topology in the context of neuroergonomics is largely unknown. Hence, modern network science, entailing a synergetic mix of dynamic systems theory, graph theory, and statistics, is applied in studying the functional and structural brain connectivity network under various states and conditions. Such synergistic relationship is deemed to work in the reverse direction, with methods and measures of human factors and neuroergonomics benefitting other disciplines, such as the systemic structural activity theory (SSAT) approach. SSAT establishes that knowledge derived from ergonomics and activity theory is uniquely capable of engaging with different ways of knowing the world of work, generating new knowledge, and helping stakeholders understand and incorporate the results or lessons learned. Even though previous studies have succeeded in quantifying a great variety of cognitive and physical measures of human tasks, the SSAT approach has been used to understand the mental and physical systemic activities entailed in human dynamic temporal interactions during everyday tasks. This therefore brings to the fore the debate on the validity and rationality of using neuroergonomics concept in exploring worker mental issues in systemic-activity theoretical research. In neuroergonomics studies using the SSAT approach, mental workload is a multidimensional construct and widely invoked concepts, whose assessment has been of great interest. In the SSAT approach, the neuro-indices of cognitive workload have been discussed in the context of human mental load and working memory related to the process of storing and processing information, and which in the workplace require the manipulation and recall of information for decision-making and problem-solving. In this wise, this paper will argue on the validity and rationality of using neuroergonomics concept in the SSAT approach, which has been used in many situations to establish the relation between worker ability to recall and store information to fatigue, stress, and workload, which in turn affects attention levels, situational awareness, and learning performance.
Keywords: Conceptual Validity, Conceptual rationality, neuroergonomics, worker mental issue, systemic, activity theoretical research
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