The Neuroergonomics of Vigilance: Effects of Spatial Uncertainty on Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity and Oculomotor Fatigue

Matthew E. Funke, Joel S. Warm, Gerald Matthews, Gregory J. Funke, Peter Y. Chiu, Tyler H. Shaw, Eric T. Greenlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of uncertainty about where in the field of view critical signals for detection appear during a vigilance task (spatial uncertainty) on cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) and oculomotor fatigue. Background: Neuroergonomics is a dimension of human factors founded by Raja Parasuraman that studies brain functions underlying performance at work. Neuroergonomic studies have shown that observers in vigilance tasks lose information-processing resources over time and experience oculomotor fatigue as indexed by a temporal decline in CBFV and elevation in eye closure as reflected in the PERCLOS metric. Because spatial uncertainty increases an observer's need for visual scanning relative to a spatial certainty condition, it was anticipated that spatial uncertainty would result in a greater temporal decline in CBFV and increased eye closure in a vigilance session. Method: Observers performed a simulated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) control task wherein collision flight paths were the events to be detected. UAV images could appear at random in any one of five locations on the controller's display (spatial uncertainty) or only in a fixed location (spatial certainty). Results: Signal detection was poorer in the spatial-uncertain relative to the certain condition, and predictions regarding CBFV and eye closure were confirmed. Conclusion: Vigilance tasks involving spatial uncertainty are more neurophysiologically taxing than those in which spatial uncertainty is not a factor. Application: The neuroergonomic approach helps in understanding the effects of psychophysical factors in vigilance and to signify when performance aiding is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-75
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • cerebral hemovelocity
  • neuroergonomics
  • oculomotor fatigue
  • spatial uncertainty
  • transcranial Doppler sonography
  • vigilance

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