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Acute stress can affect cognitive processing and decrease performance in demanding, stressful situations. Here, we recorded the cardiac indices of stress, that is, the heart rate and heart rate variability together with the physical activity of nuclear power plant operators, and examined their association with crew performance, while the operator crews were managing simulated incident and accident situations. Crew performance was evaluated both by the operator instructor and as the time taken to resolve the situation. In total, 64% of the variance in the information-seeking performance (adj-R 2 =.64, p <.01), and 41% of variation in the performance time (adj-R 2 =.41, p <.01) were explained by the psychophysiology. The cardiac measures indicated that increased stress was associated with poorer information-seeking performance and longer performance time. Increased physical activity was associated with poorer information seeking only. Otherwise, crew performance was robust, as the diagnosis and corrective actions, use of emergency operations procedures, and collaboration, were only weakly associated with the stress physiology. The association between information-seeking performance and stress might be explained by the larger requirement for cognitive processing at the information-gathering phase of the task. The results of the study show that psychophysiological measurements of stress and activity can provide valuable information on stress and its association with cognitive performance at work.
|Early online date||11 Dec 2019|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2020|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
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- 1 Finished
SAFIR 2018: The Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Power Plant Safety 2015 - 2018
1/01/15 → 31/12/18