Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

Christopher Brill

Committee Member

Barbara Winstead


The goal of the present study was to compare two secondary workload tasks, specifically a time interval estimation and visual-spatial task, to determine which of these is most appropriate for the assessment of laparoscopic mental workload. Participants performed a peg transfer task in two conditions: a normal camera angle and a 90° camera angle intended to increase mental workload. Based on multiple resource theory, it was predicted the visual-spatial task would be more sensitive to the workload manipulation than the time estimation task because it draws upon the specific, as opposed to more general, attentional resources required by laparoscopy. Primary task results demonstrated that manipulation of camera angle did change workload levels. Secondary task results showed that the visual-spatial task possessed greater sensitivity and diagnosticity than the interval estimation task. However, interval estimation demonstrated a global sensitivity to workload changes. The findings suggest that a visual-spatial secondary task is an effective method to assess workload experienced during laparoscopy.


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