Prior research has documented cognitive deficits at high altitudes (15,000-25,000 ft), but there is controversy over effects at lower altitudes. This research examined effects of moderate altitudes (12,500 and 15,000 ft) on short-term memory in comparison to 2,000 ft. 72 student pilots and instructors were administered a variety of cognitive assessment tests and subtests. Participants then spent 1.5 hr at their designated altitude for cognitive testing consisting of performance of a 30-min vigilance task while listening to an audiotape with instructions to recall radio calls prefaced by their assigned call sign. 50% of the radio calls were high memory loads (4+ pieces of information) and 50% were low memory loads (2 or fewer pieces of information). No effects of altitude were found in performance on the Vigilance task. However, for readbacks of high memory load, significant deficits in recall were observed at 12,500 and 15,000 ft, whereas no effect of altitude was observed on recall of readbacks with low memory loads. Results indicate that, at altitude, short-term memory was exceeded for the readbacks requiring a larger amount of information to be recalled, and that cognitive deficits are found at lower altitudes than previously observed.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Incorporated

    10 Industrial Avenue
    Mahwah, NJ  United States  07430-2262
  • Authors:
    • Bartholomew, C J
    • Jensen, W
    • Petros, T V
    • Ferraro, F R
    • Fire, K M
    • Biberdorf, D
    • Fraley, E
    • Schalk, J
    • Blumkin, D
  • Publication Date: 1999


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00794596
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 27 2000 12:00AM