This study examines the potential interaction of age, sleep deprivation and altitude on performance using laboratory tasks measuring aviation-related psychological functions. Healthy men in two age groups, 30-39 and 60-69 years old, were evaluated for complex (time-shared) performance in the four possible combinations of two altitudes (ground level versus 3,810 m) and two sleep conditions (sleep permitted versus sleep deprived). Following training, performance was evaluated during 3-hour test sessions in the morning and afternoon of each of 4 test days. Complex performance, measured by the Multiple Task Performance Battery, included: monitoring of warning lights and meters, mental arithmetic, problem solving, target identification and tracking. Workload was varied within each hour by changing the tasks performed simultaneously. Results showed that performance was significantly lower in the older group, but age did not interact significantly with sleep deprivation or altitude. There was, however, a significant interaction of sleep deprivation and altitude. When subjects were rested, altitude had no effect. When subjects were sleep deprived, performance was significantly lower in general, and the greatest decrement in performance occurred at altitude. Increasing workload enhanced the interaction of sleep deprivation and altitude. The performance of older subjects tended to be more affected by increases in workload, but decrements induced by sleep deprivation and altitude did not appear to interact with age. These findings provide empirical evidence in support of warnings in the aeromedical literature concerning greater effects of sleep deprivation as altitude increases within the general aviation range.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 18 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00960834
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FAA-AM-85-3
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 31 2003 12:00AM