Conclusions

Mental workload represents a composite brain state that reflects the interaction between task demands and a person's capability to meet those demands by the voluntary application of mental effort. Unitary theories propose that mental workload is associated with a single pool of information-processing resources that can be flexibly allocated to different processing activities. In the modular view, functionally separate resources are applied to different processing activities.

Evidence from electrophysiological (EEG, ERP) and functional brain imaging (PET, fMRI) studies supports a physiological basis for processing resources in the human brain. In general, these indexes ofhuman brain function support a modular view of mental workload, although they do not rule out hybrid theories in which modular resources are combined with a general purpose resource that is invoked for all processing activities. PET and fMRI studies of working memory and dual-task performance indicate that mental workload is associated with the activation of cortical networks, including the dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices and posterior parietal cortex. Parametric modulation of activation in these brain regions with increased workload has been reported in a few studies. Mental workload may reflect the dynamic recruitment of these anterior and posterior brain regions in support of task performance in response to increased task demands.

See Also the Following Articles

ATTENTION • CONSCIOUSNESS • INFORMATION PROCESSING • MEMORY, EXPLICIT AND IMPLICIT • MOTION PROCESSING • NUMBER PROCESSING AND

ARITHMETIC • PATTERN RECOGNITION • SHORT-TERM MEMORY • VIGILANCE

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