Brain and face


Dr. Stephen Guastello


The negative effects of cognitive workload and fatigue on performance have been difficult to separate historically because they can both occur simultaneously, even though they might have different underlying dynamics. To complicate matters, coping, automaticity, practice, and fatigue recovery have positive effects on performance over time simultaneously with increasing load and fatigue. Since 2009, our lab has studied the use of two mathematical models (cusp catastrophes), which when combined with a sufficiently complex experimental design can separate these two effects. The two processes have the same temporal dynamic structure but different contributing variables.

The studies conducted to date have focused on memory functions, multitasking, vigilance, financial decisions and risk taking, although not all at the same time! For some further description of the mathematical models and their impact, please see a very brief article that appeared in the January 2014 issue of American Psychologist, “Vigilance phenomena, cognitive workload and fatigue” (vol. 69, pp. 85-87). You can reach AP and other articles cited through the Raynor Library’s subscriptions to those journals.

In the next phase of work we intend to combine group dynamics – coordination and the emergence of leaders – with cognitive dynamics to study cognitive workload in groups. Other nonlinear constructs such as chaotic time series, entropy, self-organization, and synchronization are also involved.

New undergraduate research assistants should, ideally, have completed Psyc 2001 (statistics) and Psyc 2050 (research methods) and be available for at least two semesters for course credit. Other types of research or computer skills, including computer gaming, are also welcome and encouraged. 

Interested? Contact

E-mail Dr. Stephen Guastello to get more information about his research and the position.


Contact the Psychology Department

If you have questions about clinical services, please call the Center for Psychological Services at (414) 288-3487 or fax at (414) 288-6073.

Location: Cramer Hall, 317
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Phone: (414) 288-7218
Fax: (414) 288-5333
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