Investigation of lapses of consciousness using a tracking task: preliminary results
In many high-risk occupations, it is critical that a person remains alert at all times. There is much to be gained by being able to monitor a person on-line and detect lapses of consciousness (LoC) so that remedial action can be taken (e.g., a rest break) to ensure that safety is maintained. In this study, 15 normal subjects were observed on two sessions while they performed a continuous tracking task for a period of 1 hour. EEG, eye movements, tracking performance data and a video of the subject were recorded during the session. This paper presents some preliminary results on the phenomenon of lapsing. Only 4 of the 15 subjects did not have a LoC at some stage. Seven subjects had LoCs more than 45 times and 4 more than 100 times during the 2 hours. The mean rate of lapsing over all subjects was 29.1 LoC/h. In contrast, lapses in performance were caused by both lapses of consciousness (30.1%) and attention (69.9%). There was no correlation found between age of subject and number of lapses of consciousness.