DescriptionNeuroergonomics and Human Performance in Critical and Rapidly Changing Work Environments
Neuroergonomics as the application of neuroscience to ergonomics is based on a number of sub-domains, such as:
• Optimal cognitive status (i.e., attention, memory, etc.)
• Social interactions (i.e., workplace environment, communication, collaboration, cultural differences, psychosocial aspects, etc.)
• Mental well-being (i.e., mood disorders, abnormal wakes, etc.)
• Human performance (i.e., fatigue)
The role of neuroergonomics is of crucial importance in work environments with night, irregular, and demanding shifts requiring high cognitive load and causing stressful situations. These challenges increase in high-risk, critical, work environments, including (but not being limited to) air transportation and health care. Employees may face fatigue, which is accompanied by reduced concentration, diminished cognitive abilities (e.g., attention), and be prone to errors. High on-the-job demands and insufficient resources contribute also to stress. Work-related stress is a well-known risk factor for various chronic health burdens and psychiatric disorders. Prolonged or excessive exposure to stress may lead to the development of the extreme condition of burnout.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the rates of teleworking and remote work, while little attention has been paid to the neuroergonomics aspects of this shift. In the current crisis context, such concerns extrapolate to the lack of sufficient on-site staff, additional measures or other changes to their tasks, to the effects on the employee's mental and physical health, and to a dramatic increase in fatigue reports compared to pre-pandemic operations.
The aim of this special issue is, hence, to investigate neuro-ergonomics research that aims either to the early identification of working conditions that deteriorate human performance within critical working environments and/or to validate methodologies for alleviating the mental and physical burden of such factors. In the former case, research may focus on features associated with 1) fatigue and reduced productivity, 2) physiological and/or psychological stress, 3) anxiety and stress-related disorders, and 4) diminished sleep quality or any of the above-mentioned sub-domains. Recent neuroscientific and technological advances have proposed various robust interventions and approaches to ameliorate barriers and to promote optimal cognitive and mental well-being, which is crucial for enhancing human performance.
Therefore, we welcome research papers on neuroscientific research and advancements, conceptual models, methodologies, evaluation procedures, and interventions. Whilst not excluding other approaches, we also stress the use of objective measurements involving real-world data (e.g., sensorial information) and meaningful ergonomic analytics from big data constructs through contemporary data science (machine/deep learning techniques). We are interested in studies that employ these tools in order to provide intervention approaches that promote mental health in the workplace and enhance the employee’s productivity through, for example, peer support programs.
We, therefore, welcome studies that address fundamental and applied, neuroscientific and ergonomic topics of interest that include but are not limited to the following:
• The reciprocal relation among mental health and work in critical environments
• The effect of fatigue on human performance and ways either to early detect or tο alleviate its impact
• The effect of the pandemic crisis context on working conditions and employee performance
• The impact of stress and stress management interventions on psychophysiological parameters
• The effect of circadian disturbances on the productivity of employees in critical working environments
• Big data acquisition on ecologically valid recordings and their contribution to the neuro-ergonomics research
• The role of AI (machine/deep learning approach) in order to promote human productivity and employees’ health
• Industry-focused intervention approaches for promoting human productivity
• State of the art review and opinion papers on the arsenal of neuroergonomics tools
Keywords: Human performance, Neuroergonomics, COVID-19, Employee performance, Working environments
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.
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