Proceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics
Gouraud, J., Delorme, A., Berberian, B. (2017) A Preliminary Study on the Influence of Automation over Mind Wandering Frequency in Sustained Attention. Proceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics, 20-22 September 2017, Umeå, Sweden.
To satisfy the increasing demand for safer critical systems, engineers have integrated higher levels of automation. In the context of airplane autopilot, time saved by automation, which should normally be used to plan the flight, might instead be filled by task-unrelated thoughts, or mind wandering (MW). We observed the impact of automation on MW in an operational environment. Participants were required to either avoid incoming obstacles by controlling the movements of an aircraft on a 2D radar screen or monitor an automated system performing the same task. Participants’ propensity to mind wander increased with the time spent doing the task. Moreover, the time spent MW increased with automation in a significant manner. The NASA TLX, a measure of perceived workload, highlighted the influence of automation over perceived workload. Moreover, TLX scores were not correlated with MW propensity. This study shows a significant influence of automation over MW, which was not due to workload effects or task interactions.