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

Kenneth Jackson, Physical-Cognitive Multitasking Performance Decrements as a Function of Modality and Risk to Postural Control (2022)

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)