Vigilance pp 575-602 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Vigilance and Eye Movements Induced by Vestibular Stimulation

  • Robert S. Kennedy
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 3)


A number of investigators have pointed out that the mental state of the subject is an important variable in studies of habituation to vestibular stimulation. In the first part of this study, the relationship between vigilance performance and nystagmus habituation was studied, and in the second part the relationships of personality scores to vigilance and habituation were investigated. A third part was concerned with clarifying relations between personality measures and vigilance performance in tasks of different complexities.

In the first study no differences in vigilance scores were found between the two groups who were or were not oscillated. The average correlation between nystagmus and vigilance within a subject was very low, but significant (r =. 27; P <. 001). These findings are relevant to studies of relations between habituation and vigilance. The application of eye movements as a potential independent measure of alertness in moving environments and elsewhere is discussed.

In the second study an effort was made to determine the relationships between certain personality variables with vigilance performance and vestibular habituation. Contrary to the findings of other investigators who obtained positive correlations between extraversion scores and amount of vigilance decrement, no significant correlations were found. Since the vigilance task used here was more complicated than those used by the others, it is suggested that there may be an interaction between personality variables and task complexity in regards to vigilance performance.

In the third study separate scores of each subject’s ability to perform the task and vigilance during the task were calculated. The results showed that the relation of “extravert” and “ability” scores to vigilance scores depends on the complexity of the vigilance task. The vigilance of extraverts was relatively poorer on the simple (one-channel) test, but relatively better on the complex (three-channel) test (P <. 01). Also, a subject’s ability to do the three-channel test was correlated with his vigilance decrement (P <. 05), thus larger decrements in those with higher ability. An equivalent relationship was not found in the one-channel test. The fact that opposing predictions can be made about individuals as a function of task complexity can have important practical implications. The suggestion is made that persons who are “multi-channel” can be contrasted with persons who are “long-term samplers.”


Channel Capacity Motion Sickness Vestibular Stimulation Vigilance Task Personality Score 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Kennedy
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Factors Engineering BranchPacific Missile Test CenterPoint MuguUSA

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