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Rest Is Best: The Role of Rest and Task Interruptions on Vigilance

Date: July 12 2020

Summary: How resting during vigilance tasks can actually improve focus long-term

Keywords: ##bibliography #vigilance #rest #archive


W. S. Helton and P. N. Russell, "Rest is best: The role of rest and task interruptions on vigilance," Cognition, vol. 134, pp. 165–173, Jan. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2014.10.001.

Table of Contents

  1. How To Cite
  2. References
  3. Discussion:

Based on the results, taking rest is best for maintaining vigilance. A different perspective can proffer an explanation for this:

Differing tasks which interrupt one during a vigilance task may both utilize distinctly unique resources and require different amounts of resources. The tasks may have elicited different levels of cognitive load.

There exist on-going debate about the origins of vigilance decrement [1]. The best known is based on resource theory. However critics think it is a circular mode of reasoning [2].

Current findings suggest that vigilance decrement comes from repeated use of executive resources. There may be domain specific interference when the primary task and activities during a break make use of the same resources.

The findings by Ariga do not support the idea that vigilance decrement is due to task under-load. [3] Knowing why resting can assist with refocusing is difficult. Perhaps, rest allowed participants to engage in day dreaming which eliminated task monotony.

How To Cite

Zelko, Jacob. Rest Is Best: The Role of Rest and Task Interruptions on Vigilance. July 12 2020.


[1] W. S. Helton and J. S. Warm, “Signal salience and the mindlessness theory of vigilance,” Acta Psychol. (Amst.), vol. 129, no. 1, pp. 18–25, 2008.

[2] D. Navon, “Resources—A theoretical soup stone?” Psychol. Rev., vol. 91, no. 2, p. 216, 1984.

[3] P. A. Hancock, “In search of vigilance: The problem of iatrogenically created psychological phenomena.” Am. Psychol., vol. 68, no. 2, p. 97, 2013.


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