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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764


RIBAS, Valdenilson Ribeiro et al. Air traffic control activity increases attention capacity in air traffic controllers. Dement. neuropsychol. [online]. 2010, vol.4, n.3, pp.250-255. ISSN 1980-5764.

Air traffic controllers simultaneously develop complex and multiple tasks in the course of their activities. In this context, concern is raised over the high level of attention needed by these professionals which can ultimately be affected by stress and fatigue.


The objective of this study was to assess attention level in air traffic controllers (ATCo).


45 flight protection professionals were evaluated, comprising 30 ATCo, subdivided into ATCo with ten or more years in the profession (ATCo³10, n=15) and ATCo with less than ten years in the profession (ATCo <10, n=15) and 15 aeronautical information services operators (AIS), subdivided into AIS with ten years or more in the profession (AIS³10, n=8) and AIS with less than ten years in the profession (AIS <10, n=7), who were included as the control group. The digit symbol, d2 (the individual marks the letter d on a specific form containing 14 lines with 47 letters in each, maintaining focus on letter d followed by two dashes), forward digit span, backward digit span and PASAT (paced auditory serial addition test) attention tests were used. Kruskal-Wallis was used and data expressed as Median (Minimum and Maximum) with p<0.05.


The ATCo³10 presented greater focus of attention, sustained attention, mental manipulation and resistance to interference capacity compared to the AIS³10. Comparison of ATCo³10 to the AIS<10 showed they presented only greater resistance to interference, and when compared to the ATCo<10 presented lower focus.


The air traffic control activity after ten years may be associated with a high level of attention.

Keywords : air traffic controller; aeronautical information services; attention.

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