Human Factors

Principle investigators: Edmund Wascher
Staff: Stefan Arnau, Bianca Zickerick
Funds: n.a.
Cooperation/Partners: Björn Rasch (Fribourg)

Internal factors such as motivation, fatigue,or emotions can massively change people’s information processing. Important signals can be overlooked and interfering stimuli can no longer be efficiently filtered out if the readiness or the possibilities to process information are impaired by internal states.

In the past, the positive influence of motivation, but also the negative influence of neurotoxic substances or stress on basal stimulus processing mechanisms could be demonstrated. The loss of cognitive ability in long-lasting mental tasks, also refered to asmental fatigue, is closely related to the construct of motivation. Mental fatigue is considered to be a significant risk factor for accidents in many automated work areas and is therefore being intensively studied by the Department of Ergonomics. Currently, our research focuses on the impact of breaks and interruptions on information processing and the maintenance of cognitive performance.

The research strategy covers both fundamental questions, such as the search for reliable correlates of mental fatigue in the EEG, as well as application-related fatigue investigations in specific situations, such as driving vehicles, office situations, or workplaces in the field of logistics (see Experimental Ergonomics).

Current publications

  • Arnau, S., Möckel, T., Rinkenauer, G., & Wascher, E. (2017). The interconnection of mental fatigue and aging: An EEG study. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 117(December 2016), 17–25.
  • Kobald, S.O., Wascher, E., Blaszkewicz, M., Golka, K. & van Thriel, C. (2015). Neurobehavioral and neurophysiological effects after acute exposure to a single peak of 200 ppm toluene in healthy volunteers. Neurotoxicology 48, 50-59.
  • Möckel, T., Beste, C. & Wascher, E. (2015). The effects of time on task in response selection – an ERP study of mental fatigue. Sci Rep 5, 10113.
  • Sänger, J., Bechtold, L., Schoofs, D., Blaszkewicz, M. & Wascher, E. (2014). The influence of acute stress on attention mechanisms and its electrophysiological correlates. Front Behav Neurosci 8, 353.
  • Wascher, E. & Getzmann, S. (2014). Rapid mental fatigue amplifies age-related attentional deficits. Journal of Psychophysiology 28,215–224.
  • Wascher, E., Rasch, B., Sänger, J., Hoffmann, S., Schneider, D., Rinkenauer, G., et al. (2014). Frontal theta activity reflects distinct aspects of mental fatigue. Biological Psychology 96,57–65.