William S Helton

William S Helton

William S Helton


Human Factors/Applied Cognition: Vigilance, Response Inhibition, Disaster and Emergency Response, Interaction of Cognitive and Physical Performance, Wearable Interfaces, Working Dogs

Engineering Psychology and Human Performance



The Evolution of Vigilance: 


Working Dogs: 


Natural Disasters:


Friendly Fire: 


Wearable Interfaces for Emergency Responders:





Current Research

  • Vigilance
  • Response Inhibition
  • Disaster and Emergency Response
  • Interaction of Cognitive and Physical Performance
  • Wearable Interfaces
  • Working Dogs

Selected Publications

Selected Journal Publications Since 2016

  1. Jackson, K.M., Shaw. T.H., & Helton, W.S. (in press). The Effects of Dual-Task Interference on Visual Search and Verbal Memory.


  1. Bedi, A., Russell, P.N., & Helton, W.S. (in press). Go-stimuli probability influences response bias in the sustained attention to response task: a signal detection theory perspective. Psychological Research.


  1. Ward, M., & Helton, W. S. (2022). More or less? Improving monocular head mounted display assisted visual search by reducing guidance precision. Applied Ergonomics102, 103720.


  1. Blakely, M. J., Smith, S. L., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2022). The impact of cognitive load on kayaking and kayaking on cognitive performance. Applied Ergonomics102, 103747.


  1. Ward, M. D., & Helton, W. S. (2022). Dual-task interference while receiving information on a head mounted display and manual tracking with and without auditory warnings. Applied Ergonomics101, 103713.


  1. Dang, J. A., Shaw, T. H., McKnight, P. E., & Helton, W. S. (2022). A Closer Look at Warning Cues on the Sustained Attention to Response Task Performance. Human Factors, 00187208211060708.


  1. Aitken, J. A., Kaplan, S. A., Pagan, O., Wong, C. M., Sikorski, E., & Helton, W. (2021). Affective Forecasts for the Experience Itself: An Investigation of the Impact Bias during an Affective Experience. Current Psychology, 1-7.


  1. Mensen, J. M., Dang, J. S., Stets, A. J., & Helton, W. S. (2021). The effects of real-time performance feedback and performance emphasis on the sustained attention to response task (SART). Psychological Research, 1-8. 


  1. Blakely, M. J., Smith, S. L., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2021). The impact of cognitive load on climbing and climbing on cognitive performance. Applied Ergonomics94, 103413.


  1. Smith, S. L., Helton, W. S., Matthews, G., & Funke, G. J. (2021). Performance, Hemodynamics, and Stress in a Two-Day Vigilance Task: Practical and Theoretical Implications. Human Factors, 00187208211011333.


  1. Sturman, D., Wiggins, M. W., Helton, W. S., & Auton, J. C. (2021). The development and validation of a short-duration sustained visual search task for process control environments. Applied Ergonomics91, 103302.


  1. Head, J., Tenan, M. S., Tweedell, A. J., Wilson, K. M., & Helton, W. S. (2020). Response Complexity Reduces Errors on a Response Inhibition Task. Human factors62(5), 787-799.


  1. Neigel, A. R., Claypoole, V. L., Smith, S. L., Waldfogle, G. E., Fraulini, N. W., Hancock, G. M., Helton, W.S., & Szalma, J. L. (2020). Engaging the human operator: a review of the theoretical support for the vigilance decrement and a discussion of practical applications. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 21(2), 239-258.


  1. Sturman, D., Wiggins, M. W., Auton, J. C., & Helton, W. S. (2020). Cue utilisation predicts control room operators’ performance in a sustained visual search task. Ergonomics63(1), 48-60.


  1. Munnik, A., Näswall, K., Woodward, G., & Helton, W. S. (2020). The quick and the dead: a paradigm for studying friendly fire. Applied Ergonomics84, 103032.


  1. Stets, A., Smith, S. L., & Helton, W. S. (2020). Dual-task interference between swimming and verbal memory. Human Factors62(7), 1132-1140.


  1. Humphrey, B., Helton, W. S., & Nelson, X. J. (2019). Caffeine affects the vigilance decrement of Trite planiceps jumping spiders (Salticidae). Journal of Comparative Psychology133(4), 551-559.


  1. Sturman, D., Wiggins, M. W., Auton, J., Loft, S., Helton, W.S., Westbrook, J., & Braithwaite, J. (2019). Control room operators’ cue utilization predicts cognitive resource consumption during regular operational tasks. Frontiers in Psychology10, 1967.


  1. Epling, S. L., Edgar, G. K., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2019). Is semantic vigilance impaired by narrative memory demands? Theory and applications. Human Factors61(3), 451-461.


  1. Satterfield, K., Harwood, A. E., Helton, W. S., & Shaw, T. H. (2019). Does depleting self-control result in poorer vigilance performance?. Human Factors61(3), 415-425.


  1. Melrose, A., Nelson, X. J., Dolev, Y., & Helton, W. S. (2019). Vigilance all the way down: Vigilance decrement in jumping spiders resembles that of humans. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology72(6), 1530-1538.


  1. Nelson, X. J., Helton, W. S., & Melrose, A. (2019). The effect of stimulus encounter rate on response decrement in jumping spiders. Behavioural Processes, 159, 57-59.


  1. Humphrey, B., Helton, W. S., Bedoya, C., Dolev, Y., & Nelson, X. J. (2018). Psychophysical investigation of vigilance decrement in jumping spiders: overstimulation or understimulation? Animal Cognition, 21(6), 787-794.


  1. Epling, S. L., Blakely, M. J., Edgar, G. K., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2018). Memory impairment during a climbing traverse: implications for search and rescue climbing. Experimental Brain Research, 236(11), 3043-3052.


  1. Dang, J.S., Figueroa, I.J., & Helton, W.S. (2018). You are measuring the decision to be fast, not inattention: the Sustained Attention to Response Task does not measure sustained attention. Experimental Brain Research, 236, 2255–2262.


  1. Kemp, S., Chan, M., Chen, Z., & Helton, W.S. (2018). Risk attitude, perceived returns and investment choice in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 47, 23-29.


  1. Wilson, K. M., de Joux, N. R., Finkbeiner, K. M., Russell, P. N., Retzler, J. R., & Helton, W. S. (2018). Prolonging the response movement inhibits the feed-forward motor program in the sustained attention to response task. Acta Psychologica183, 75-84.


  1. Head, J., & Helton, W. S. (2018). The troubling science of neurophenomenology. Experimental Brain Research, 236(9), 2463-2467.


  1. Head, J., Tenan, M.S., Tweedell, A.J., LaFiandra, M.E., Morelli, F., Wilson, K.M., Ortega, S.V., & Helton, W.S. (2017). Prior mental fatigue impairs marksmanship decision performance. Frontiers in Physiology.


  1. Rees, A., Wiggins, M. W., Helton, W. S., Loveday, T., & O'Hare, D. (2017). The impact of breaks on sustained attention in a simulated, semi‐automated train control task. Applied Cognitive Psychology31(3), 351-359.


  1. Brouwers, S., Wiggins, M. W., Griffin, B., Helton, W. S., & O’Hare, D. (2017). The role of cue utilisation in reducing the workload in a train control task. Ergonomics60(11), 1500-1515.


  1. de Joux, N. R., Wilson, K. M., Russell, P. N., Finkbeiner, K. M., & Helton, W. S. (2017). A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study of the effects of configural properties on sustained attention.Neuropsychologia94, 106-117.


  1. Helton, W. S., & Russell, P. N. (2017). Rest is still best: The role of the qualitative and quantitative load of interruptions on vigilance.Human Factors59, 91-100.


  1. Epling, S. L., Blakely, M. J., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2017). Interference between a fast-paced spatial puzzle task and verbal memory demands. Experimental Brain Research6(235), 1899-1907.


  1. Hancock, N. J., Joux, N. R., Wingreen, S. C., Kemp, S., Thomas, J., & Helton, W. S. (2017). Positive post‐disaster images: A daydream machine? British Journal of Psychology108(3), 528-543.


  1. Head, J. R., Tenan, M. S., Tweedell, A. J., Price, T. F., LaFiandra, M. E., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Cognitive fatigue influences time-on-task during bodyweight resistance training exercise. Frontiers in Physiology,7.


  1. Epling, S. L., Blakely, M. J., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Free recall and outdoor running: cognitive and physical demand interference. Experimental Brain Research234, 2979-2987.


  1. Buckley, R. J., Helton, W. S., Innes, C. R., Dalrymple-Alford, J. C., & Jones, R. D. (2016). Attention lapses and behavioural microsleeps during tracking, psychomotor vigilance, and dual tasks.Consciousness and Cognition45, 174-183.


  1. Wilson, K. M., Finkbeiner, K. M., de Joux, N. R., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Go-stimuli proportion influences response strategy in a sustained attention to response task. Experimental Brain Research234(10), 2989-2998.


  1. Finkbeiner, K. M., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Rest improves performance, nature improves happiness: assessment of break periods on the abbreviated vigilance task. Consciousness and Cognition42, 277-285.


  1. Wilson, K. M., de Joux, N. R., Finkbeiner, K. M., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2016). The effect of task-relevant and irrelevant anxiety-provoking stimuli on response inhibition. Consciousness and Cognition42, 358-365.


  1. Brouwers, S., Wiggins, M., Helton, W.S., O’Hare, D., & Griffin, B. (2016). Cue utilisation and cognitive load in novel task performance. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.


  1. Woodham, A., Billinghurst, M., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Climbing with a head-mounted display dual-task costs. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society58(3), 452-461.


  1. Blakely, M. J., Kemp, S., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Volitional running and tone counting: The impact of cognitive load on running over natural terrain. IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors4(2-3), 104-114.


  1. Epling, S. L., Russell, P. N., & Helton, W. S. (2016). A new semantic vigilance task: vigilance decrement, workload, and sensitivity to dual-task costs. Experimental Brain Research, 234(1), 133-139.


  1. Lambie, E., Wilson, T. M., Johnston, D. M., Jensen, S., Brogt, E., Doyle, E. E., & Helton, W. S. (2016). Human behaviour during and immediately following earthquake shaking: developing a methodological approach for analysing video footage.Natural Hazards80(1), 249-283.


B.A. Evergreen State College

M.A. University of Cincinnati

Ph.D. University of Cincinnati

Dissertations Supervised

Justin Mensen, Factors Affecting Performance Using Modified Sustained Attention to Response Tasks (2022)

Jose Antonio Calvo IV, Understanding Crash and Non-driving Related Task Engagement Patterns of At-risk Drivers: A Comparison of Non-driving Related Task Clusters and an Analysis of Naturalistic Driving (2021)

Jasmine Sierra Dang, Sustained Attention to Response Task: The Characteristics of Speed-accuracy Trade-off, Cue Reliability, and Thought Content on Task Performance (2020)