Effect of cognitive load on speech prosody in aviation: Evidence from military simulator flights.Appl Ergon. 2011 Jan; 42(2):348-57.AE
Mental overload directly affects safety in aviation and needs to be alleviated. Speech recordings are obtained non-invasively and as such are feasible for monitoring cognitive load. We recorded speech of 13 military pilots while they were performing a simulator task. Three types of cognitive load (load on situation awareness, information processing and decision making) were rated by a flight instructor separately for each flight phase and participant. As a function of increased cognitive load, the mean utterance-level fundamental frequency (F0) increased, on average, by 7 Hz and the mean vocal intensity increased by 1 dB. In the most intensive simulator flight phases, mean F0 increased by 12 Hz and mean intensity, by 1.5 dB. At the same time, the mean F0 range decreased by 5 Hz, on average. Our results showed that prosodic features of speech can be used to monitor speaker state and support pilot training in a simulator environment.