Cognitive Perception in Aviation. - Aviation Pilot Safety

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Nov 15, 2013 (3 years and 6 months ago)

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Running
h
ead:
COGNITIVE PERCEPTION IN AVIATION

























Cognitive Perception in Aviation


Literature Review
Final Project


Bernard McCaffrey


Memory and Cognition


ASCI
663


ERAU Worldwide Online

















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Abstract

The
following
re
search

paper
will utilize
several professional, juried journal
articles to
explore
and support
the theme of cognitive perception in the aviation environment which
will encompass
;

the various processes of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory
info
rmation, the relationship between
the intensity of physical stimuli and their
perceptual effects as well as the perceptive impact of previous experiences including
culture and interpretation.

Cultural elements of the aviation workplace

will be targeted
for

their potential distractions as well as training issues, and complex problem solving
utilizing h
ead
-
up displays
, various avionics,
or other situational awareness tools at the
disposal of the flight crew.
















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Cognition and Perception


An understan
ding or at least an accepted definition of both cognition and
perception and how they are intertwined within the context of the aviation environment is
an important starting point for the exploration of ideas that follow. A
n
academically
and
scientifically

accepted definition of cognition is that it
incorporates

the
various mental
processes that involve gaining knowledge, involve comprehension, thought,
remembering, judgment, and problem solving. These are higher
-
level brain functions
that also
encompass l
anguage
, planning and imagination
. Perception is
a
part of this
process and can be viewed as
the
gaining
of
comprehension or awareness through
sensory stimulation. Perception is also said to
include

the culmination of past
experiences,
present
cultural ele
ments, and interpretation of collected information
(Sternberg, 2009).

It
is reasonable to consider

then that w
ithin the context of the aviation
environment the study of how various crew members gather and process data, remember
critical

information, plan
ahead, utilize past expe
rience
, interpret cultural elements
, and
interpret various sensory information

incorporates both cognitive and perceptual
functions
and
is a

fundamentally

important activity. The following articles represent the
study of a wide rang
e of perceptual and cognitive activities and elements

that impact the
pilot crew members during daily operational activities.

A Review of the Perceptual and Cognitive Issues Associated With the Use of
Head
-
Up Displays in Commercial Aviation

As the article
reveals, the head
-
up display (HUD) is a projection of symbology
into the pilot’s forward field of view that enables the pilot to monitor the instrumentation
,


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while theoretically, also viewing
his

external domain

(Crawford, 2006)
. While the HUD
has been sho
wn to significantly improve flight performance since its introduction in the
early 1960’
s,

there
continue to be

fundamental
cognitive and perceptual issues
that have

negative
control
potential
and the authors

of this article address several of those areas.


As
stated,
the HUD is a projected display of information on a transparent screen
with the symbology superimposed over the pilot’s forward field of view, enabling him to
monitor primary flight
and navigational
information while maintaining a view of the
o
utside world (Crawford, 2006). This ability is
thought to be
well suited for the operation
of the aircraft during takeoff and approach to landing regimes where the flying pilot must
transition from head
-
down operation (on instrumentation) to that of head
-
u
p operation
(out the forward window).
One of the primary areas of concern from a processing
standpoint occurs
however,
when the user

s focus is drawn inward towards the symbolic
information creating attention issues referred to as misaccommodation and cog
nitive
tunneling.
The article further states
;

that while much research as well as debate has
occurred over the several decades of HUD usage these issues remain relevant in terms of
the
today’s
instrument
usage

and
cognitive and perceptual processing
in gen
eral
(Crawford, 2006).

Misaccommodation of the eye occurs when focus is drawn inward by something
relatively
close. This is considered problematic as it can impair the user’s ability t
o detect
targets and judge
their size and distance. HUD’s are collimate
d to appear at optical
infinity
by putting the symbology at the same optical depth as the external references
to
overcome

this problem. The article reveals that this solution has
only
been
moderately

successful
and this is due

to

human cognitive processing

abilities

and limits
. Intuitively, it


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might be expected that an HUD system would enhance a pilot’s ability to detect events in
his external environment while
remaining aware of symbolic navigation cues as he does
not have to switch gaze from instrumentati
on to outside world. The article presents strong
evidence to the contrary however presenting several examples of the pilot

s attention
, in
certain circumstances,

being drawn
inward to the symbology in spite o
f the collimation
which can be
classified

as cog
nitive tunneling (Crawford, 2006).


Attention and its importance on information processing is another element that the
article explores. The human factors aspect of information processing as a limited human
resource is touched upon as it pertains to the ne
gative impact of display features that
encourage divided attention. Perceptual aspects of the visual field such as motion, color
and frame of reference distinguish the HUD from the external world and for this reason
each element
, both HUD and external worl
d,

may not be processed or visually attended to
at the same time

(Crawford, 2006).

Another element studied and presented in the article was the usage of the HUD
and the users’
in
ability to detect unexpected events.
Over a several year period studies
were
conducted varying pilot workload
as well as varying symbology
during several
phases of flight in a realistic manner
. All this

while presenting
the pilot

with events he
was prepared to view and those he was not. The results were statistically significant in

that nearly 40% of the pilots tested showed a propensity to fail to identify unexpected
events, especially during
the

landing
phase

where workload is
typically
at its highest
.
This finding that pilots can fail to detect unexpected events, such as runway i
ncursion
s
, is
consistent with results that have been reported in broader psychological literature
including inattentional blindness as a phenomenon (Crawford, 2006).



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As can be seen from the outlined examples, several elements have been presented
regarding
perception and cognition
as these functions pertain to
practical
HUD usage and
subsequent
design. P
ilot workload can be seen as a factor as can HUD usage in
instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)

as potential sources for distraction and were
mentioned
therein regarding perception
. Other elements worth mentioning that were
considered contributing factors regarding pilot perception

and
cognitive tunneling were
symbology clutter, the representation of too much information in the given available area
and HU
D brightness or instrument intensity level.

Memory Processes of Flight Situation Awareness: Interactive Roles of Working
Memory Capacity, Long Term Working Memory, and Expertise.


Memory (
the act of remembering)
, situational awareness (
involving

being awa
re
of what is happening around
the individual

to understand how information, events, and
one’s

own actions will impact
individual

goals and objectives, both now and in the near
future
)
, and expertise (the culmination of experience), are all elements of per
ception and
cognition

(Sternberg, 2009)
. This particular research
article
examined the roles of
working memory capacity and long
-
term working memory in flight situational
awareness.



The central
questions that this research proposes are

what

memory measur
e or
measures

are significant contributors to situational awareness

and what impact they have
on experienced aviators as opposed to novices
. The consensus is that both working
memory
(WM)
and long
-
term working memory

(LT
-
WM)

are the core processes
involved

with pilot situational awareness. Working memory is described
in the article
as
the executive and attention/awareness

aspect of short
-
term memory involved in the


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interim integration, processing, disposal, and retrieval of information. Working memory
tasks

include the active monitoring or manipulation of information or behaviors.

Long
-
term working memory is described as
information
stored
as memories that can

be

retrieved over a several minute period as opposed to shot
-
term memory which ostensibly
stores in
formation for
only
15 to 20 seconds

(
Sohn
, 200
4
).


Through hierarchical regression analysis (hierarchical models provide a way of
examining differences across populations by pooling information by disparate groups
without assuming they belong to precisely
the same population)
the study correlated each
of two WM capacity measures, sp
at
ial and verbal spans,
and four LT
-
WM measures,
spatial control, spatial performance, verbal control and verbal performance, with the
situational performance measure. The analys
is allowed the determination of whether the
effect of one predictor was significant in controlling the other predictors (
Sohn
, 200
4
).


Through various tests expressed in several tables the results indicated that the
roles of specific memory varied as a fun
ction of
experience/
expertise. The statistics
strongly supported that WM capacity measures correlated highly with situational
awareness sensitivity for novices, whereas LT
-
WM measures correlated highly with
situational awareness sensitivity for
the
experie
nced pilots. One explanation proposed is
that novices rely more on inherent WM capacity due to their lack of acquired experience
thus having fewer LT
-
WM skills to overcome high situational awareness workloads. In
contrast the highly experienced pilots util
izing LT
-
WM skills were less stressed in the
higher workload environment and subsequently exhibited a much higher degree of
situational awareness sensitivity
overall
(
Sohn
, 200
4
).



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At this stage of industry development, it can be stated unequivocally that
situational awareness is
an extremely

important factor in the operation of aircraft, both on
the ground and in all of several flight regimes
. Therefore
it can
also
be stated that an
understanding of
the cognitive functions of both WM as well as LT
-
WM as th
ey pertain
to situational awareness can be a very valuable tool.
It is this
researcher’s

opinion that t
he
premise
of

experience in the environment enhances
performance is logical and intuitive
yet that information alone will not necessarily improve environ
mental training. It is the
knowledge of both WM and LT
-
WM as they pertain to the general population of novice
to expert that has the potential to most impact the research and ultimately the training
departments contributing to the understanding of past sit
uational awareness failures and
anticipating those cognitive vulnerabilities germane to
future potential

failures.

Implicit Perceptions of Risk and Anxiety and Pilot Involvement in Hazardous
Events


This research
article
pertained to the examination of the

role of implicit processes
in aeronautical risk perception as well as risk taking. The accepted
premise
for this study
is that aeronautical decision making encompasses both explicit processes including
comparing options or seeking information and implicit

or intuitive processes such as
immediate affective reactions.
The study involved general aviation pilots, their implicit
associations between perceived bad weather conditions and their perceptions of risk and
anxiety
. The study utilizes
a variation of
the

Implicit Association Test
. The theory
proposed
by the authors is that the
subject
, or pilot in this case,

who has had a higher
level of exposure to weather related hazardous events, where there has been a successful


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outcome

over time
, may be involved in r
isk
-
taking behavior because they perceive less
risk in, and are implicitly less afraid of, hazardous conditions

(Pauley, 2008).


Adverse weather conditions represent one of the many hazards associated with
aviation overall

with

a
historically
higher
degree

of risk

in the general aviation
(GA)
environment due in part to experience levels, equipment sophistication and frequency of
operation. (Note:
Over

the past decade GA equipment and weather detection
/ navigation
systems

have made huge
developmental
inroads

and in many cases
represent

the cutting
edge of
weather detection and navigation
technology surpassing
that of
many airline
operations. Experience levels and frequency of operations, however, are still a
large
factor

in weather related GA crashes
.)
The re
search further
exemplifies

that weather

related accidents most commonly occur while flying
from

clear

(VMC)
into cloudy or
weather obscured conditions
(IMC)
and while other areas of operation

such as the take
off or landing phases of flight

include
signifi
cant accident rates

it is the VMC into IMC
accidents that produce the greatest fatality rate, over five times greater than the other
operational
areas combined
(Pauley, 2009).



The testing method,
the
Implicit Association Test is a socio
-
experimental meth
od
designed to measure the strength of automatic association between mental representations
of objects or concepts in memory. It requires rapid categorization of various stimuli such
that easier pairings (faster responses) are interpreted as more strongly
associated in
memory and more difficult pairings (slower responses) less so

(Sternberg, 2009)
.
In the
case of this experiment, there were two separate studies conducted using questionnaires
to query the previous 24 months of participant aviation operation.

In both tests,
subjects

who had
some involvement in hazardous events showed a significant difference in their


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strength of implicit association denoting a strong relationship between previous
involvement

in hazardous aeronautical events and implicit anxiet
y.
Conversely, t
he fewer
hazardous aeronautical events in which the pilot had been involved, the stronger the
association between feeling anxious and
operation in
adverse weather (Pauley, 2008).



Cognition and perception by definition
include

implicit ass
ociation

or the mental
association between mental representation of objects, or in this case perception, in
memory. This study
does provide

data to support the hypothesis that pilots who implicitly
see less risk an
d

feel less anxious about adverse we
ather
are more likely

to experience a
greater number of hazardous aeronautical events than pilots who perceive more risk and
feel more afraid of adverse weather.
However, the research also allows for several other
elements that could be considered factors. These

include previous hazardous weather
exposure where the outcome was positive, previous hazardous management training or
cultural elements (e.g. historically, male pilots, as compared with female pilots have a
greater proportion of crashes
that could be char
acterized as attributable to risk taking)
(Pauley, 2008).
From the perspective of this researcher, c
onsidered as a whole, the data
collected is less than absolute regarding previous hazardous weather flying experience,
implicit association with a positive
mission outcome and the implied issues of
flight
safety therein
. Previous experience seemed to be the key determinant in the
se

experiments yet
properly trained pilots with
previous experience is the key to safe
operations throughout the airline industry. I
t is the type of experience then that could be
considered the determinant

and the data described poor weather related decisions where
the outcome was successful none
-
the
-
less. It is then, these ‘poor decision successes’ and


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the implicit association by thes
e ‘experienced pilots’ who represent the
ultimate
hazard in
the study.

Measuring Expertise in Weather
-
Related Aeronautical Risk Perception: The
Validity of the Cochran
-
Weiss
-
Shanteau (CWS) Index


In this study three control groups
, experienced pilots, stu
dent pilots and upper
level geography students, were presented with weather
-
related scenarios, and rated the
risk involved in each scenario. As in the previous study
,

risk perception and decision
making as they pertain to perceived risks are
cognitive
fact
ors but expertise and its
development as it pertains to aeronautical decision making (ADM) were also elements in
this study.
While there are many different models describing expert ADM
the study
identified four components that surfaced routinely

in the var
ious studies
. These included;
aviation experience, ability and motivation to attend the task of flying, dynamic problem
solving skills, and excellent risk management ability (Pauley, 2009).


As a
keystone

for this study, r
isk management is said to encompa
ss risk
perception and risk tolerance and is the ability to detect
the risk associated with a
situation or hazard, from within an individual or environment
. Other testing bench marks
included studies that found that ADM errors were related to both risk per
ception and risk
tolerance and gave as

an example

the pilots who flew into adverse weather conditions
g
iving

lower ratings of the perceived risk
as
compared to other pilots.
Risk tolerance
it
was noted
,
was
said
to
also
be
related to pilot decision making
(Pauley, 2009).

Another
fundamental

element in the perception of risk and subsequent risk tolerance
decisions
is
the pilot

s self
-
assessment s
kill

or the individual

s ability to determine whether they can
fly in the conditions as perceived.
While the under
lying
element

of the entire study is the


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subjective nature of any decision making process, perhaps the most subjective element of
all is the self assessment component. This not only encompasses the pilot’s
perception of
his
own
ability to fly but also his
ability to assess the weather
conditions
ahead
.

Furthermore, there are
personality elements

such as ego (
e.g.
competitiveness,
comparative
peer
standing,
fear of failure) that in certain circumstances could
factor in to
this

assessment process

with the pos
sibility
of

negative
impact

to the entire process
(Pauley, 2009).


Two studies were conducted using the Cochran
-
Weiss
-
Shanteau (CWS) index

which calculates expertise by dividing discrimination by inconsistency
.

Discrimination is
calculated as the variance
among responses

to different stimuli. Inconsistency is the
variance among responses to the same stimuli. The CWS is calculated so that the higher
the ratio, the more consistent, discriminating, and therefore, expert the judge (Pauley,
2009).
The goal of th
e studies was to use the CWS procedure to measure expertise in
aeronautical risk perception through presentation of specific flight scenarios to the
subjects who differ
ed considerably

in ADM experience.

The conclusions of both tests
supported
the theory th
at expertise positively impacted aeronautical weather decision
making. Expertise was represented in these scenarios as

the more highly experienced
pilot
as a reliable source of or
in possession of a
skill
(weather experience)
whose faculty
for judging or d
eciding wisely

or correctly

is

consistent (Pauley, 2009).

Conclusion


With each of the previous studies Cognitive Perception is shown to be an
important factor in the field of aviation and the wide range of cognitive elements tested,
be it perception with

head
-
up displays, interactive roles of working memory, perceptions


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and comprehension of risk

and risk management
, or weather related decision

making

only
touching upon

the cognitive and perceptive factors that come into play on a routine
basis in the aero
nautical environment.
The term cognition, to know, to recognize or to
conceptualize, really refers to our abilities to process information and applying the
acquired knowledge accordingly. The cognitive process has been analyzed within many
contexts as it a
pplies to psychology, neurology, philosophy


really any higher learning
field


and is
closely
intertwined with concepts that include reasoning, perception and
intelligence. It has been said that to learn is to be
cognizant (Sternberg, 2009)
.
Within
aviat
ion, in the estimation of this researcher, cognition and perception
are two

of the most
critical factors in mission success and the further study and understanding of how we
think and decide, of how we interact and respond, of how we process and how we
per
ceive can only make for better decisions and a safer environment overall.
It is well
documented that a
s the aviation environment has progressed
over the past century
accident rates

have continued to decline as technologies have made the mechanical
elements

nearly failsafe. Yet, it is the human operating element that has remained rather
stationary, statistically, in terms of accident fault. While failure will always be a human
characteristic, so too is learning, recognition, awareness and planning. A better
understanding through further study has the potential to ultimately enhance our
understanding of self in ways suited to counteract our potential to fail.








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References

Crawford, J., Neal, A. (2006). A Review of the Perceptual and Cognitive Issues

Assoc
iated with the Use of Head
-
Up Displays in Commercial Aviation.
The

International Journal of Aviation Psychology. Mahwah:

16, 1, 113.

McLachlan, N., Wilson, S. (2010). The Central Role of Recognition in Auditory

Perception: A Neurobiological Model.
Psychol
ogical Review. Washington:

117,



1, 175.

Pauley, K., O’Hare, D., Wiggins, M., (2009). Measuring Expertise in Weather
-
Related


Aeronautical Risk Perception: The Validity of the Cochran
-
Weiss
-
Shanteau


(CWS) Index.
The Journal of Aviation Psychology. Mahaw
:

19, 3, 201.

Pauley, K
.

A., O’Hare, D., Mullin N.W., Wiggins, W. (2008).
Implicit Perceptions of

Risk and Anxiety and Pilot Involvements in Hazardous Events
.
Human Factors:


Santa Monica
,

50, 5, 723.

Sternberg, Robert J. (2009).
Cognitive Psychology, 5
t
h
edition.

Belmont: Wadsworth/

Thompson Learning.

Sohn, Y
.
W
.
, Doane, S.M. (2004). Memory Processes of Flight Situation



Awareness: Interactive Roles of Working Memory Capacity, Long
-
Term



Working Memory, and Expertise.
Santa Monica
. 46, 3, 461
.