Age-Related Group and Individual Differences in Aircraft Pilot Cognition

This study evaluates the effect of age on cognition in air pilots. A total of 220 pilots completed a variety of neuropsychological tests that included tests of psychomotor speed, information processing speed, attention and executive ability, verbal learning and memory, and visual learning and memory. Pilot age was between 28 and 62 with a mean age of 48 years. Test performance was regressed on pilot age to determine the function, linear or nonlinear, of age-related differences in cognition. Individual performance was also examined by assessing outlier test scores (> 2 SD) relative to the overall group mean. Results showed that age was significantly associated with test performance across several domains. Differences were observed in tests of psychomotor and information processing speed, attention and executive ability, and verbal and visual learning and memory. Pilot age was not associated with immediate verbal recall or recognition or with immediate visual recall. Differences in pilot cognition across the age range appear to be gradual, with no appreciable acceleration or change in the rate of cognitive difference with pilot age. Almost all performance outliers (relatively poor test scores) occurred in pilots over 40 years old and older. These findings indicate that individual differences in pilot cognition appear to be large enough and frequent enough to be usefully examined in relation to measures of pilot flying performance. Such performance outliers can potentially establish thresholds or boundaries of normal or optimal relations between cognitive ability and flying performance ability.

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Hardy, David J
    • Satz, Paul
    • D'Elia, Louis F
    • Uchiyama, Craig L
  • Publication Date: 2007


  • English

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01044698
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 25 2007 8:35PM