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[en] Drowsiness is one of the major factors explaining accidents, particularly in traffic accidents but also in work situations with serious consequences (e.g. medicine). The drowsiness may be assessed by diverse measures that vary from physiological and unconscious data (e.g. EEG) to subjective and conscious evaluation. In their daily life, people are used to evaluate their drowsiness by subjective assessment and research observes a great inter-individual variation in this evaluation. Moreover, the subjective evaluation is dependent on the situation and the risk perceived by the person (e.g., new versus usual situations, simple versus complex environments, etc.).
In this theoretical context, our purpose was to investigate the links between 1) objective performance (reaction time) measured by a psychomotor vigilance task (PVT), 2) data from eye movements and 3) subjective assessment of drowsiness (measured with Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, KSS). 12 persons, aged from 20 to 56, participated individually. They were asked to respect a 60% sleep deprivation during the night before the experiment and to not drink any energy drinks the day of the experiment. The experiment was conducted between 1 and 3 PM after a heavy lunch in order to increase the circadian effect. Moreover, the temperature of the room was 25° in order to increase drowsiness. Each participant was asked to perform 4 PVT. However, although 100% of participants performed the first two PVT, only 66% were able to perform the third PVT and only 33% of participants performed the fourth and last PVT.
Our results showed an effect of time on objective performance, eye movements and subjective assessment of drowsiness in PVT 1 and 2: significant increase of reaction time, increase of eye closure and perclos, reduction of pupil diameter and increase of subjective drowsiness estimation (KSS). Only the frequency and duration of blinks remained constant across time. In PVT 3 and 4, data from eye movements and objective performance (reaction time) did not vary anymore across the time. Only the subjective estimation of drowsiness (KSS) continued to increase. Furthermore, subjective estimation of drowsiness was differently correlated with eye movements and objective performance across the PVT; it was significantly correlated with reaction time (PVT 1,2,3), blink frequency and duration (PVT 1,2,3), perclos (PVT 1,2,3,4), eye closure (PVT 2,3), pupil diameter (PVT 1,2,3,4). These results are discussed and integrated in an ergonomic approach in order to analyze the links between objective performance, eye movements and subjective assessment of drowsiness.