Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
Human factors/ergonomics researchers have long studied the connection between cognitive function and the ability to perform well on multiple simultaneous tasks, and recently a group of neuroergonomics researchers went a step further to examine a genetic link to multitasking ability. Neuroergonomics is the study of the brain in relation to performance.
In their Human Factors paper, "Interactive Effects of the COMT Gene and Training on Individual Differences in Supervisory Control of Unmanned Vehicles," Parasuraman and colleagues hypothesized that individuals with the Met/Met genotype of the Val158Met variant of the Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) gene would perform better in a simulated air-defense task than would people without that genotype. The presence of the COMT gene has been shown to increase dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls executive function (e.g., memory, reasoning, problem solving). "Dopamine availability in the PFC appears to be particularly important when task demands are high," the authors note in the paper.
Parasuraman et al. examined the performance of 99 men and women ages 18 to 38, who were divided into three genotyped groups based on the Val158Met variant. Over the course of four training blocks, participants controlled six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in low- and high-task-load conditions to destroy enemy targets, prevent enemy incursions, and avoid friendly fire while attending to a communications task.
The researchers did indeed find that participants with the Met/Met genotype of the COMT gene showed more improvement with training and performed better than did those in the other two genotype (Val/Met and Val/Val) groups.
The results of this study, which was supported by a grant from the Air Force Research Lab, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, are promising for improving the training of real-world operators of multiple UAVs. Parasuraman et al. also note that the work has value for illustrating that matching training to individuals based on their cognitive abilities could be more important than other factors in personnel selection.
Plan to attend the 2014 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care: Leading the Way, March 16-19, Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our Neurology / Neuroscience category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. "The ability to multitask may be in the genes." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 10 Jan. 2014. Web.
7 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270946>
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. (2014, January 10). "The ability to multitask may be in the genes." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270946.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2014 All rights reserved. MNT (logo) is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.