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  Attention and Concurrent Task Management

Pilots, controllers, maintenance technicians, and workers in many other fields often must juggle several tasks concurrently, switching attention back and forth among the tasks to keep each going. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled, individuals are vulnerable to forgetting to perform task steps and to losing track of some tasks when switching attention this way. Similar problems are caused by interruptions and distractions. Individuals sometimes underestimate the risks of juggling concurrent tasks, as evidenced by use of cell phones while driving. Our research examines how skilled operators manage concurrent tasks, the errors to which they are vulnerable, and countermeasures for reducing vulnerability.

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