Dual-task effects between tone counting and mathematical calculations

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Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


We examined the impact of performing a tone counting task of varying cognitive loads and mathematical calculations simultaneously, compared to performance on the same tasks done individually. Participants performed continuous mathematical calculations, performed a high and a low cognitive load tone counting task, and also performed the math and counting tasks simultaneously. Performing the two tasks together resulted in significant dual-task interference. We also compared these results to previous studies employing the tone counting tasks with physically demanding tasks (climbing, kayaking and running). The interference between tone counting and mathematical calculations was worse than the interference between tone counting and running and kayaking. For climbing, the difference in interference was more nuanced with evidence indicating climbing uniquely asserts task prioritization. These findings have implications for operations requiring dual or multi-tasking.

Publication Title

Applied Ergonomics