ALERT – Attention: Alertness
The ALERT training program trains the alertness dimension of attention – the ability to temporarily increase and sustain the intensity of attention.
Scene and Task
A motorcycle is driven along a winding road. The client’s task is to carefully observe the stretch of road in front of him and to press the reaction key as quickly as possible when obstacles appear. If the client reacts in time the motorcycle slows down and the obstacle disappears so that the rider can continue on his way. If the reaction is delayed there is an “emergency stop”; there is a loud braking noise, the motorcycle comes to a halt and a yellow exclamation mark appears on the screen.
When the intensity of attention is temporarily aroused exogenously by a warning signal, phasic alertness is involved. If the arousal occurs without a cue, the situation involves intrinsic alertness. The aim of alertness training must be to increase intrinsic alertness, since only in this case is arousal entirely cognitively controlled. However, where there are deficits related to alertness it is necessary to first improve phasic alertness and only then to proceed to working on intrinsic alertness.
The ALERT training program consists of two training forms. The S1 training form trains phasic alertness, while the S2 training form trains intrinsic alertness. In the S1 training form the obstacles designed to externally arouse the client’s attention are preceded by acoustic and visual warning signals. In the S2 training form the acoustic and visual warning signals are omitted. The motorcycle then travels through a foggy night-time landscape, in which the obstacles suddenly appear out of the mist.
Each of the two training forms contains 18 difficulty levels. The degree of challenge is increased by shortening the maximum permitted reaction time. At the first level the client has 1.8 seconds in which to react to an obstacle, but at the highest level only 0.3 seconds elapse between the sudden appearance of an obstacle and the emergency braking.
At the first session the speed of the client’s initial reactions is assessed and he is assigned to a difficulty level appropriate to his ability. This ensures that from the outset the training program is optimally adapted to the client’s skill and is never either too easy or too difficult for him.
MAIN AREAS OF APPLICATION
ABILITY MEASUREMENT IN VTS
GOOD TO KNOW
ALERT can also be used with patients with disorders of the field of Vision. The instruction page are then displayed on one side of the screen and the obstacles only appear on one side (e.g. trees only fall onto the carriageway from the right).