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2020, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, Pages 8600- (volume: 10)

A multimodal and signals fusion approach for assessing the impact of stressful events on Air Traffic Controllers (01a Articolo in rivista)

Borghini Gianluca, Di Flumeri Gianluca, Aricò Pietro, Sciaraffa Nicolina, Bonelli Stefano, Ragosta Martina, Tomasello Paola, Drogoul Fabrice, Turhan Uğur, Acikel Birsen, Ozan Ali, Imbert Jean Paul, Granger Géraud, Benhacene Railane, Babiloni Fabio

Stress is a word used to describe human reactions to emotionally, cognitively and physically challenging experiences. A hallmark of the stress response is the activation of the autonomic nervous system, resulting in the "fight-freeze-flight" response to a threat from a dangerous situation. Consequently, the capability to objectively assess and track a controller's stress level while dealing with air traffic control (ATC) activities would make it possible to better tailor the work shift and maintain high safety levels, as well as to preserve the operator's health. In this regard, sixteen controllers were asked to perform a realistic air traffic management (ATM) simulation during which subjective data (i.e. stress perception) and neurophysiological data (i.e. brain activity, heart rate, and galvanic skin response) were collected with the aim of accurately characterising the controller's stress level experienced in the various experimental conditions. In addition, external supervisors regularly evaluated the controllers in terms of manifested stress, safety, and efficiency throughout the ATM scenario. The results demonstrated 1) how the stressful events caused both supervisors and controllers to underestimate the experienced stress level, 2) the advantage of taking into account both cognitive and hormonal processes in order to define a reliable stress index, and 3) the importance of the points in time at which stress is measured owing to the potential transient effect once the stressful events have ceased.

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