Can Situation Awareness Be Measured Physiologically?

Bracken, B.1, Tobyne, S.1, Winder, A.1, Shamsi, N.1, Endsley, M.2

Advances in Neuroergonomics and Cognitive Engineering (July 2021)

To operate effectively across a variety of environments, personnel (e.g., air traffic controllers, pilots, truck drivers, emergency response crews) must develop and maintain situation awareness (SA), perceiving relevant elements in the environment, understanding their meaning, and projecting their status into the near future. Although multiple SA assessment techniques have been developed, they require periodic interruptions of a task to query the individual regarding their knowledge of the situation. There has been a recent proliferation of more rugged and durable sensor devices (e.g., functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) sensors) that can be used while people take part in ecologically valid activities to assess changes in neurophysiology, physiology, and behavior that correlate with cognitive state (e.g., SA). In addition, recent advances in machine learning and modeling techniques can be used to interpret information about human states (e.g., SA) from noisy data acquired in such environments that previously was unusable. These advances provide opportunity to develop physiological measurement approaches that could provide a potential avenue for real time, continuous, and objective assessment of SA in many real-world settings. This class of measures could potentially provide a window into low SA states where an intervention may be necessary to ensure acceptable levels of performance. In this paper, we review potential SA metrics to assess their suitability for continuous real-world monitoring.

1 Charles River Analytics
2 SA Technologies, LLC

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