Shinohara, K., Naito, H., Matsui, Y. & Hikono, M.

The effects of"finger pointing and calling"on cognitive control
processes in the task-switching paradigm

International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics



"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.

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