Grace under pressure: FSU researchers analyze the effects of stress on decision-making ability

e likely to encounter in game situations.

Putting both experts and novices through critical scenarios such as these, laboratory researchers don't just observe the differences in subjects' performance. They also take measurements from participants that include reaction time, eye and body movements, and heart rate, perspiration and blood-pressure changes. In addition, researchers use interviewing techniques they have developed to understand the differences in subjects' minds.

"We're looking at how people think and how that thinking affects how they perform," said Paul Ward, an FSU assistant professor and research-team member who serves on the faculty of both the Learning Systems Institute and the FSU department of psychology.

The Human Performance Laboratory (www.lsi.fsu.edu/cepr/index.html) was established at FSU in 2004 through congressional funds administered by the Office of Naval Research. That Navy's interest in human-performance research lay in its potential to identify those cognitive mechanisms that influence skilled performance among Navy personnel, especially in combat situations.

"The innovative studies currently under way in the Human Performance Laboratory and the study of situation awareness during periods of stress are excellent examples of the benefits associated with multidisciplinary research efforts for which the Learning Systems Institute is known worldwide," said institute Director Laura Hassler Lang. "In addition to Dr. Eccles and Dr. Ward, K. Anders Ericsson, FSU's Conradi Eminent Scholar and a professor in the department of psychology, played a key role in developing the lab's research agenda, and others, including Jim Whyte of the College of Nursing, collaborated to extend the lab's capabilities.

"We are very excited about the potential applications of this work to other research areas," Lang said, "and have submitted proposals to


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