Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

Matt Judah

Committee Member

Yusuke Yamani


The purpose of this study was to test Wickens’ Multiple Resource Theory (MRT) by comparing performance and subjective workload on a visual-spatial secondary task with an auditory-spatial analog when paired with visual-spatial laparoscopic primary tasks. Two primary tasks were performed with a laparoscopic box trainer: a high workload task that consisted of transferring rings from one peg to another and a low workload task that consisted of grasping and placing large pencil erasers in a bowl. It was predicted that the visual-spatial secondary task would be more sensitive when paired with the laparoscopic primary task than the auditory analog. Findings from the study mostly supported this prediction. Proportion of correct detections and subjective workload scores indicated that the auditory-spatial task secondary task was less demanding than the visual-spatial task in high workload, dual task conditions. However, no significant differences were found for response time and false alarms. Overall, these results support the modality predictions of MRT under high workload conditions. Additionally, this study provides further evidence supporting the use of the visual-spatial, ball-and-tunnel task as a measure of workload during laparoscopic surgery.


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