Cognitive Workload and Fatigue

Researcher - Dr. Stephen Guastello


Cognitive workload and fatigue (CWLF) have negative effects on cognitive performance that have been difficult to separate because they can both occur simultaneously, even though they result from different underlying processes. 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 the two effects.

Our projects to date have focused on memory functions, multitasking, vigilance, financial decisions and risk taking, emergency response strategies, forecasting future events, and dynamic decisions. Dynamic decisions are made in a sequence in which the results of one decisions affect what is possible in the next decision; they are very prominent in the management of complex systems.  For some further description of the mathematical models and their impact, please see our CWLF project summary.

Our more recent projects have been investigating CWLF at the group level, which draws in other dynamics – such as coordination, communication, and autonomic synchrony – along with nonlinear constructs such as chaotic time series, entropy, self-organization, and synchronization. The CWLF lab and the Chaos and Complexity lab are actually the same lab following and expanding the science in two directions.


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 experience or computer skills, including computer gaming, are also welcome and encouraged.

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