Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology. January 2013, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 34-39.
© 2013 V. B. Dorokhov, G. N. Arsenyev, O. N. Tkachenko,
D. V. Zakharchenko, T. P. Lavrova, V. V. Dementienko
Visuomotor coordination is required for successful performance of activities. Different types of tasks, such as getting into cars or working in static conditions require various coordination patterns with different levels of interaction between eye and hand movements. A psychomotor test was developed for analysis of impairments to visuomotor coordination induced by decreases in the level of arousal. The test is as follows: a small round spot (14 mm in diameter) was used as the target spot, and this moved across a monitor screen at a constant slow rate (12 mm/sec) in a circular orbit of diameter 70 mm with a period of 20 sec. Subjects were told: “Keep the mouse cursor inside the target object. If the cursor comes out of the moving target, this will be counted as an error.” Subjects’ reactivity levels were tested by introducing occasional presentations of an additional moving target, which had to be caught with the mouse as quickly as possible, with a click of the mouse button. The trajectory of the mouse cursor was recorded with a time resolution of 120 Hz. Eye movements were recorded using a contactless eye movement video detection system (Eyegaze Development System, LC Technologies, USA), which is based on reflection of infrared light from the cornea and allows the coordinates of gaze direction to be measured with a time resolution of 120 Hz. The monotonous nature of the test decreased the level of arousal and induced a drowsy state, which led to the occurrence of errors 30–40 min from the start of the experiment. The dynamics of the physiological level of arousal were identified electroencephalographically. Analysis of the time characteristics of slow tracking and fast saccadic eye movements and of hand movements showed them to be highly sensitive to decreases in work capacity induced by decreases in the level of arousal. Further development of this approach will facilitate the development of a contactless method for the rapid diagnosis of critical levels of drowsiness and for identifying the professional characteristics of human operators requiring high levels of visuomotor coordination.
Key words: video tracking, visuomotor coordination, psychomotor test, saccalic and tracking eye movements, monotony, level of arousal, activity errors.