76| Aerospace Neuropsychology – A Conversation With Dr. Randy Georgemiller

A high level of cognitive functioning is crucial to the safe and competent operation of aircraft. Neuropsychologists are increasingly called upon to perform cognitive evaluations of commercial airline pilots and these evaluations are unique in many ways compared to more conventional clinical assessments in hospital settings.  In this episode, we discuss the ins and outs of aerospace neuropsychology with Randy Georgemiller, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, including important clinically relevant evidence-based advice and guidance for neuropsychologists looking to extend their practice by evaluating aviators and air traffic controllers.

A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.

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Topics Covered

  • The HIMS program.
  • The path for neuropsychologists to become credentialed to complete evaluations for pilots.
  • Commercial, general, and military aviation.
  • Fatigue and aviation.
  • Ways in which the aging process can impact aviation skills and performance.
  • The impact of subclinical cognitive and psychological symptoms on pilot performance and how neuropsychologists can measure these symptoms.
  • The CogScreen-AE.
  • The use of criterion-referenced versus norm-referenced standards in neuropsychological evaluations of pilots.
  • Validity issues in the neuropsychological evaluation of pilots.
  • Evaluations of air traffic controllers.

About Randy

Dr. Randy Georgemiller is a board certified clinical psychologist who works as a neuropsychologist for the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Aerospace Medicine.  Prior to accepting a full time position, he served as an FAA Neuropsychology Consultant for more than two decades.  Professionally, he led a multisite group psychology practice in Chicago for 20 years where aviation neuropsychology and addictions were primary focuses of his work.  Relevant experience included his decade-long consulting psychologist position with the Hazelden Foundation in Chicago.  Most recently, his experience includes tenure with Army Medicine as a neuropsychologist. Besides being a fellow of the American Psychological Association and Illinois Psychological Association he has held leadership positions within both professional organizations.  He has published and presented before national and international organizations in the fields of neuropsychology, aviation psychology, military psychology, LGBT psychology, and geropsychology.

Selected References

Broach, D., & Brecht-Clark, J. (1994). Validation of the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control Specialist Pre-Training Screen. https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/21398

Causse, M., Dehais, F., Arexis, M., & Pastor, J. (2011,). Cognitive aging and flight performances in general aviation pilots. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, 18(5), 544-561. https://doi.org/10.1080/13825585.2011.586018

Durso, F. T., Bleckley, M. K., & Dattel, A. R. (2006). Does situation awareness add to the validity of cognitive tests? Human Factors The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 48(4), 721-733. https://doi.org/10.1518/001872006779166316

Federal Aviation Administration. (2021). FAA HIMS NEUROPSYCHOLOGISTS. Federal Aviation Administration. https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/media/AeromedicalNeuropsychologistList.pdf

Front, C. M., (2017). Neurocognitive Assessment of Pilots: The FAA Perspective [Conference session]. CAMA Sunday, AsMA Annual Scientific Meeting, Denver, Colorado.  https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/attachments/neurocognitive-assessment-the-faa-perspective_cama-sunday-at-asma-2017-pdf.84176/

Kennedy, H. C., & Kay, G. G. (Eds). (2019) Aeromedical Psychology. CRC Press

Klaproth, O. W., Halbrugge, M., Krol, L. R., Vernaleken, C., Zander, T. O., & Russwinkel, N. (2020). A Neuroadaptive Cognitive Model for Dealing With Uncertainty in Tracing Pilots’ Cognitive State. Topics in Cognitive Science, 12(3), 1012-1029. https://doi.org/10.1111/tops.12515

Neuhaus, C., & Hinkelbein, J. (2014). Cognitive responses to hypobaric hypoxia: implications for aviation training. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 7, 297-302. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S51844

Oberhauser, M., Dreyer, D., Braunstingl, R., & Koglbauer, I. (2018). What’s Real About Virtual Reality Flight Simulation? Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 8(1), 22-34. https://doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000134

Rosa, E., Eiken, O., Grönkvist, M., Kölegård, R., Dahlström, N., Knez, I., Ljung, R., Jönsson, F. U., & Willander, J. (2020). Effects of Fatigue on Cognitive Performance in Long-Duration Simulated Flight Missions. Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 10(2), 82-93. https://doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000191

Santilhano, W., Bor, R., & Hewitt, L. M. M. (2019). The Role of Peer Support and Its Contribution as an Effective Response to Addressing the Emotional Well-Being of Pilots. Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 9(2), 67-76. https://doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000163

Van Benthem, K., & Herdman, C. M. (2016). Cognitive Factors Mediate the Relation Between Age and Flight Path Maintenance in General Aviation. Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors, 6(2), 81-90. https://doi.org/10.1027/2192-0923/a000102

Yesavage, J. A., Jo, B., Adamson, M. M., Kennedy, Q., Noda, A., Hernandez, B., Zeitzer, J. M., Friedman, L. F., Fairchild, K., Scanlon, B. K., Murphy, G. M., Jr., & Taylor, J. L. (2011). Initial cognitive performance predicts longitudinal aviator performance. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66(4), 444-453. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbr031


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