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WSU researchers to study effect of fatigue on attention
Date:3/22/2013

SPOKANE, Wash. A team of researchers at Washington State University has received a three-year, $895,558 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Naval Research to study the effects of fatigue on attention, decision making and their underlying biology. The study is part of a continuing line of WSU research looking at the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive functioning.

The study may lead to more efficient staffing of Navy ships and other around-the-clock operations or safety-sensitive work environments.

The study takes off on earlier work that yielded two new findings, said principal investigator Hans Van Dongen, a research professor with the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center. He and his collaborators showed that how we respond to sleep deprivation differs from person to person, based on our biology.

They also discovered that it depends in part on the task we're trying to perform. One person may handle sleep deprivation well in one task but badly in another. The reverse may be true for someone else.

"So how do we know how someone will do on a task that is operationally relevant but that cannot be readily practiced, such as decision making under challenging circumstances?" said Van Dongen.

To find the answer, Van Dongen teamed with: cognitive scientists and longtime research collaborators John Hinson and Paul Whitney, both professors of psychology in the WSU College of Arts and Sciences; military operational task expert Bryan Vila, a professor of criminal justice and criminology in the WSU College of Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Matt Layton, a clinical associate professor of medicine at WSU and the physician of record for the study.

The research team designed an experiment that will look specifically at the effects of sleep deprivation on distinct attention systems that can be separated out.

Whitney said that when making decisions based on information that comes in over time, peopl
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Contact: Judith Van Dongen
jcvd@wsu.edu
509-358-7524
Washington State University
Source:Eurekalert

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