A strategically timed verbal task improves performance and neurophysiological alertness during fatiguing drives

Hum Factors. 2014 May;56(3):453-62. doi: 10.1177/0018720813500305.


Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate if a verbal task can improve alertness and if performance changes are associated with changes in alertness as measured by EEG.

Background: Previous research has shown that a secondary task can improve performance on a short, monotonous drive. The current work extends this by examining longer, fatiguing drives. The study also uses EEG to confirm that improved driving performance is concurrent with improved driver alertness.

Method: A 90-min, monotonous simulator drive was used to place drivers in a fatigued state. Four secondary tasks were used: no verbal task, continuous verbal task, late verbal task, and a passive radio task.

Results: When engaged in a secondary verbal task at the end of the drive, drivers showed improved lane-keeping performance and had improvements in neurophysiological measures of alertness.

Conclusion: A strategically timed concurrent task can improve performance even for fatiguing drives.

Application: Secondary-task countermeasures may prove useful for enhancing driving performance across a range of driving conditions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Safety
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*
  • Young Adult