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Saigon, Vietnam, circa 2019

Lanes of Interference



The aviation industry today is at the forefront of technological design as advancements have profound effects on the general population. With this insight, understanding the roles and processes of pilots as a smaller group study allows for economical resource utilization along with individuals exposed to similar semantic experiences in the workplace. 

Developing human-centric operations that include interaction with a neural system where new information is assimilated and reorganized instantaneously while relying on the use of semantic memory from the operators is an opportunity of research for human factors professionals. Challenges vary in multinational and multicultural design concepts for aviation inhibiting attempts to create an interface in which a human can interact regardless of prior knowledge of general population tendencies. 

Variables that influence semantic organization or retrieval of knowledge by the operators must be addressed, along with potential semantic knowledge deficits or categorization differences that appear across cultures creating disparate experiences on an individual level. These can include placement of visual displays, characters for conveying meaning, and colors used for warnings or other indications which can vary on a cultural and national level. For example, Hangul, the Korean alphabet, is read from left to right as in English but utilizes characters instead of letters. Some characters of the Korean language have similarities to the English letters; however, the similarities cause confusion rather than clarity due to the prior knowledge associated with the shapes. On the other hand, the Persian and Chinese languages must be read from a different direction which can lead to operator confusion regarding initiation of a sequence. 

Interference due to prior knowledge is an issue regarding systems consolidation as both language and meaning can occur on a retrograde in physicality of written construct itself, as well as in the working memory that manipulates received information as researched by Baddeley (2012) which lends to the formation of concepts (Goldstein, 2018). Prior knowledge is necessary to interact with the interface; however, the origin of the design is affected by the biases of the developer leading to situations such as the need for all pilots to speak English. 

To construct a study to examine how to demonstrate this aspect of cognition, the specific research question is:  

“What design or sequencing approach for preventing operational problems for pilots would address the potential human delay and knowledge interference issues?” 

Understanding that humans assimilate new information more slowly and may experience interference with prior knowledge must be a consideration of human factors professionals. Variables such as language, culture, nation, and other colloquial idiosyncrasies influence the learning process in ways that are not yet understood. This leaves much to be considered in future research. 

Learning is the basis for all that is present. As a result, the research community has a profound fascination with understanding how the brain processes information in semantic episodes to utilize the working memory for creating neuroplastic movement leading to retention in the long-term memory. By utilizing motor skills along with visual, auditory, and vibrational cues, the information stored in the nervous system that changes through “integrated processes of neuroplasticity” (Boyd, 2015) may be more readily available for immediate use. In understanding the event-related potential (ERP) at an individual level to create an allocated time for human response that can be tailored specifically to the pilot, advancements in the reaction time for operators would be greatly improved. 

To address biases, all major languages should be considered even though international pilots are required to speak English, as the initial construct for the brain to learn was determined by another system of language. As a result of this requirement for international flights, it can be seen as an example of how humans must conform to human-machine interfacing (HMI) due to a lack of foresight in design where the “What is?” question may have been overlooked. In doing so, the connections and dissociations can be reviewed for implementation as design enhancements. 

Stimuli responsible for interference stem from visual and auditory stressors; it is possible that stressors are also present due to changes in pressure and vibrational tones. As cycles such as the circadian rhythm create our sleep pattern to naturally re-energize the body as referenced by Guastello (2013), it is possible that other rhythms based on low-frequency vibrations and noise (LVFN) play into an audible rhythm that affects the discrimination index and sustained attention reflecting changes in the level of default mode network (DMN) activity, as well as the cognitive level of information being processed as low- or high-load. Internal sustained attention has been researched in the Buddhist monk community showing that acuity and perceptual discrimination can improve vigilance on low-load tasks (LaBrie, 2014). It is possible that these interferences lead to automation bias which could take effect due to a low task load in the working memory without real-time information manipulation requirements. By improving the semantic memory interactions by accounting that new learners may have prior knowledge not considered in design, the ability to remain at stasis while utilizing the working memory in conjunction with the long-term memory may lead to an increased functional result of the pilot’s division and interaction of the sensory and procedural memories leading to live-experience response based on healthy stasis of external and internal sustained attention. 


Due to prior knowledge, many face varying perspectives in the workplace and in personal situations. This knowledge cannot be changed; but through healthy behavioral adjustments and the utilization of personalized learning as discussed by brain researcher Lara Boyd (2015), along with the integration of biosensors, it may be possible to lessen the effects of interference by implementing human-centric design. 


Baddeley, A. (2012). A Lecture in Psychology: Working Memory: Theories, Models, and Controversies. Annual Reviews. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from A Lecture in Psychology: Working Memory: Theories, Models, and Controversies

Boyd, L. (2015). After watching this, your brain will not be the same. TEDxVancouver. (14:24/YouTube). Retrieved November 19, 2022, from After watching this, your brain will not be the same. 

Goldstein, E. B. (2018). Cognitive psychology: connecting mind research and everyday experience (5th ed.). Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 

Guastello, S. J. (2013). Human factors engineering and ergonomics: A systems approach, second edition. Taylor & Francis Group. 

LaBrie, R. (2014). The Cognitive Neuroscience of Sustained Attention and Classical Mindfulness: Volume 1. YouTube. Retrieved November 6, 2022, from  
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Sustained Attention and Classical Mindfulness: Volume 1


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