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Towards an Online, Objective Measure of Situation Awareness using EEG: Assessing the Relation between Attention and SA

Kramer, R (2016) Towards an Online, Objective Measure of Situation Awareness using EEG: Assessing the Relation between Attention and SA. Master's Thesis / Essay, Human-Machine Communication.

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Many years of research have shown that operator performance in safety-critical work environments is in a large degree dependent of situation awareness (SA). The currently existing methods for assessing the quality of SA, however, have some shortcomings that make them unsuitable for field studies among others. Given the importance of attention for maintaining high quality SA and the large body of research showing that attention can be captured using EEG, EEG may be a possible candidate for a new online, objective measure of SA. Therefore, in this exploratory study, we sought to capture the relation between SA and several EEG metrics of attention. In addition, we compared the data of a medical grade EEG system (128 channel BioSemi ActiveTwo) with a wireless and wearable headset (9 channel B-Alert X10), to test whether EEG can be recorded reliably in field studies. Student participants performed a train traffic controller (TTC) task twice (once with each EEG system). During the task, SA was sampled periodically with the Situation Present Assessment Method (SPAM) and a psycho-motor vigilance (PMV) task was added as a behavioral measure of attentiveness. Several EEG metrics of attention were related to the response times (RTs) on the SPAM but no significant relation was found. The results on the PMV task did suggest that participants experienced a high level of workload in the first experiment, which is ascribed to inexperience with the task. In a pilot study with four TTCs, of which only qualitative data was analyzed and discussed, insights were gained that argue for the use of trained professionals in SA related research. The data of BioSemi and the B-Alert was compared based on event-related potentials (ERP). The B-Alert X10 data was to a large extent in accordance with the BioSemi data, suggesting that high quality data can be obtained using the wireless wearable EEG system. Differences between the systems were found in both amplitude and latency of the P3 response, for which several possible explanations are discussed. All in all, no relation between EEG metrics of attention and SA was found with the current experimental setup. Lessons need to be drawn from this study, in order to make future endeavors in this line of research more successful. Most importantly, in order to gain a better understanding of the dynamics between SA and the attentional demands of a task, you need to consider the level of skill of the participants and make use of trained professionals. This is not only important for gaining SA by the participants, but also for assessing SA by the researchers.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Supervisor name: Vugt, M.K. van and Lo, J.
Degree programme: Human-Machine Communication
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:25
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 09:40

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