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Understanding and Preventing Crew Member Task Entrainment (NNX15AK77G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The investigators are conducting ground- and flight-based experiments to understand and mitigate the performance deficits caused by crewmembers switching between independent and interdependent tasks. Drawing on their own research, as well as that conducted by other scholars, they aim to explain how crewmember entrainment is produced by deep levels of cognitive, physical, and affective engagement or immersion in tasks, which make it difficult for crewmembers to disengage from those tasks, even after they have switched to a different task. With independent tasks, crewmember immersion is grounded in features of the task, whereas in interdependent tasks, immersion is grounded in the task as well as in the connections that exist between members to coordinate interaction.

Investigators hypothesize that, as a result of this immersion/engagement, entrainment should cause the performance of teams that switch between independent and interdependent tasks to suffer. They further hypothesize that the strength of this effect is influenced by member cognitive ability, goal difficulty, engagement, task complexity, and time spent on the prior tasks. Investigators aim to gain a greater understanding of the entrainment process and to propose an intervention that will help crews transition more efficiently between critical independent and interdependent tasks and improve collective performance.

Specific Aims:

  1. Determine the time it takes for team members to become entrained in a particular mode of work (independent versus interdependent tasks).
  2. Determine the performance effects of entrainment to a particular work style followed by switching to another style during an operational space flight context.
  3. Determine the individual attributes that make crewmembers more or less susceptible to entrainment, and what can be done to mitigate the negative effects of entrainment and improve individual and team capabilities of switching tasks effectively.

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Task performance and analysis

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Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in Progress. Some restricted access data exist for this experiment.
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Achievement striving
Cognitive ability
Emotion recognition
Entrainment effects
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress
HERA Campaign 3 01/26/2016 10/19/2016 Four 30-day missions
HERA Campaign 4 05/06/2017 06/18/2018 Four 45 days One 23 days
HERA Campaign 5 02/15/2019 03/09/2020 Four 45 day missions

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2013-14 HERO NNJ13ZSA002N