“Finger pointing and calling (FPC),” also known simply as “pointing and calling,” is an operational procedure to prevent human error and has been used extensively in Japanese industry. Although the effectiveness of FPC has been widely recognized, cognitive processes underlying FPC have not been thoroughly investigated. The current study focused on the effect of FPC on cognitive control processes responsible for the supervisory attentional system including the retrieval and activation of working memory. In the experiment, a task-switching paradigm was adopted. Twenty participants had to make a binary decision about two presented digits according to one of three task rules. Task rules to be applied were presented by a cue immediately before presenting the digits. Participants took part in a mixed rule session in which they had to switch the task rule from one trial to the next, and a single rule session in which a specific rule was applied throughout the session. FPC to the cue was incorporated. Results showed that in the mixed rule condition, the reaction was significantly faster when FPC was performed compared to when FPC was not performed. Even though the reaction became faster in the mixed rule condition with FPC, the accuracy of response was not affected. However, the preparation time, which was required for retrieving and activating the rule used for the current trial, was affected by performing FPC. In addition, the level of subjective mental workload did not change by applying FPC, which suggests that FPC was nonintrusive to the main task. These findings suggest that FPC facilitates the cognitive control processes of the supervisory attentional system, and that FPC was especially useful for the signal that requested operators to select something from memorized alternatives according to the content of the signal.The findings of this study provide evidence of the effectiveness of FPC and contribute to encouraging the introduction of FPC to real working situations as a tool to prevent operational errors. The findings can also serve to evaluate the effectiveness of FPC by evaluating to what extent cognitive control processes are included when an operator has to check or respond to signals. If a check and response to a signal demands cognitive control processes, it seems to be effective to incorporate FPC into the checking and response behavior. Furthermore, the findings of this study may contribute to updating policies regarding the application of FPC and to improving safety training programs in which FPC is incorporated in the training process.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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