Quantifying the Impact of Submersion in Water and Breathing Type on Cognitive Resource Utilization

  • Luke GoodenoughEmail author
  • Swantje Zschernack
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 827)


The underwater environment has been seen as a potentially dangerous working environment, requiring high levels of situation awareness to function in safely. As a working environment, it is inherently complicated with multiple effects on the operator, including limited sensory input. Research into the effect of submersion and breathing type on cognitive functioning and the severity of any impacts would allow for adaptations in training and operation methods underwater, leading to reduced risk and increased efficiency in task performance. Literature surrounding the topic of cognitive function in the underwater environment is limited and was limited to assisted breathing only, no apnea based studies looked into cognitive functioning but rather focused on the human dive response and related physiological effects on being underwater. A pilot study focused on the impact of submersion in water and breathing modality (assisted breathing and apnea) on different stages of the information processing chain. This showed that only more complex tasks are affected, with no uniform reason as to why. Memory was impacted in terms of speed of recall in the apnea condition only. Visual detection was affected in terms of speed and accuracy in both underwater conditions, leading to the conclusion that submersion caused performance decrease. The recognition task was only affected in the assisted breathing condition, in terms of both speed and accuracy, indicating that the assisted breathing was the factor responsible for the decrease in performance.


Underwater Cognitive function Apnea 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Kinetics & Ergonomics DepartmentRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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