Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT)

The psychomotor vigilance task is a brief, portable electronic visual reaction time task sensitive to fatigue / sleepiness / tiredness.  The test consists of responding to a small bright LED digital counter, by pushing a button, as soon as the stimulus appears.

Human reaction time is used by psychologists and physiologists as an index of impairment.  Continuous reaction time performance over a relatively short time period can reveal impairment caused by fatigue, drugs and medical conditions. 

The psychomotor vigilance task is a test of behavioural alertness. It involves a simple reaction time test designed to evaluate the ability to sustain attention and respond in a timely manner to salient and critical signals. The psychomotor vigilance task performance has been demonstrated to be highly sensitive to behavioural alertness associated with:

  • Total sleep deprivation
  • Cumulative partial sleep loss
  • Excessive sleepiness from sleep apnoea
  • Shift work
  • Jetlag in transoceanic pilots
  • On-call demands of medical staff
  • Medical conditions, current medications, and illicit drugs.

 Examples of its Applications

  •  48 year old plant operator with leukemia on multiple medications (10+) is he fit to drive?
  • 30yr old Oil Rig worker with depression recently started on medication. Is he fit to perform safety critical work?
  • 24yr old dump truck driver fell asleep whilst truck being loaded.
  • 65yr old commercial vehicle operator appears inattentive and forgetful.

For more information contact Michael Foote, Exercise Physiologist at The Health Advantage:

[email protected]