Consistent with CDC recommendations and government mandates during COVID, masks are commonly required/suggested in public gathering places like workplaces and schools. Considering the implications for human factors research, the extent to which mask-wearing impacts cognitive abilities and/or workload assessment from cardiac indicators are unknown. This study investigated these effects by engaging subjects in cognitively-loading tasks (math or memory) while not wearing masks, and additionally by wearing one of three types of masks (surgical, N95, and cloth). Results suggest that mask-wearing does not have significant impact on task performance data (accuracy, total question answered) or cardiac indices (heart rate). This study can foster a deeper understanding of the influence of mask-wearing on actual and perceived cognitive workload, and how mask-wearing may mitigate common workload assessment methods. These findings are valuable for informing human subjects research during COVID, and in identifying implications of mask-wearing on domains that impose cognitive work demands.

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Journal: In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2022 Sep (Vol. 66; No. 1; pp. 226-230)

Keywords: cardiac workload, cognitive task performance, Covid-19, Heart Rate, mask wearing,

Applications: Heart Rate,

CamNtech Reference: AH22039

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