cognitive load

Stress influences performance: Insights into designing high cognitive load rehab tasks

The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of induced stress on the performance of each task during high cognitive load situations(HCLS). We hypothesized that induced stress leads to performance decrements during HCLS. In this study, the HCLS included standing while completing a secondary task(wire maze). The wire maze was composed of a metal wire path(maze) and a single ring, held in one hand that was moved over the maze without contacting the maze itself. Stress was induced through a loud buzzer when the ring contacted the maze. Participants were asked to randomly stand 1)quietly, or while completing the wire maze 2)with or 3)without the buzzer. Trials were three-minute long. A sample of 18 healthy young participants, (24.76±3.56 years) were randomly recruited. Perceived stress was obtained after each trial. Regularity of ground-reaction-force (GRF) in anterior-posterior and medial-lateral directions as well as wire maze error (ring-to-path contact) were calculated as primary and secondary task performance. GRF was more irregular during quietly standing compared to HCLS with and without the buzzer in both the AP and ML directions(p=0.02, p=0.001, respectively in anterior-posterior,η^2=0.28)&(p=0.004, p<0.0001, respectively in medial-lateral, η^2=0.39). Perceived stress was significantly lower during quietly standing compared to HCLS with(p=0.001, η^2=0.45) and without buzzer(p=0.007) conditions. Overall, the hypothesis was supported partially; during the most stressful HCLS, the high level of perceived stress coincided with less wire maze errors(P<0.0001, d= 0.72). Identifying the strategies underlying task prioritization can help clinicians design appropriate interventions to challenge patients appropriately to improve performance during HCLS.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Physical Therapy, Posturography