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The effect of a helmet on cognitive performance is, at worst, marginal: A controlled laboratory study

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Author: Bogerd, C.P. · Walker, I. · Brühwiler, P.A. · Rossi, R.M.
Source:Applied Ergonomics, 3, 45, 671-676
Identifier: 488253
doi: doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2013.09.009
Keywords: Safety · Cognitive performance · Headgear · Helmet · Defence, Safety and Security · Life · CBRN - CBRN Protection · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


The present study looked at the effect of a helmet on cognitive performance under demanding conditions, so that small effects would become more detectible. Nineteen participants underwent 30min of continuous visual vigilance, tracking, and auditory vigilance (VTT+AVT), while seated in a warm environment (27.2 (±0.6)°C, humidity 41 (±1)%, and 0.5 (±0.1)ms-1 wind speed). The participants wore a helmet in one session and no helmet in the other, in random order. Comfort and temperature perception were measured at the end of each session. Helmet-wearing was associated with reduced comfort (p=0.001) and increased temperature perception (p<0.001), compared to not wearing a helmet. Just one out of nine cognitive parameters showed a significant effect of helmet-wearing (p=.032), disappearing in a post-hoc comparison. These results resolve previous disparate studies to suggest that, although helmets can be uncomfortable, any effect of wearing a helmet on cognitive performance is at worst marginal. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and The Ergonomics Society.