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Simultaneous Interpreting: Characteristic of Autonomic Provision of Extreme Cognitive Loads

Simultaneous Interpreting: Characteristic of Autonomic Provision of Extreme Cognitive Loads

Chernigovskaya T.V., Parina I.S., Alekseeva S.V., Konina A.A., Urich D.K., Mansurova Yu.O., Parin S.B.
Keywords: simultaneous interpreting; cognitive control; cognitive activity; autonomic provision of simultaneous interpreting.
СТМ, 2019, volume 11, issue 1, pages 132-140.

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Simultaneous interpreting is one of the most comprehensive and energy-consuming types of cognitive activity. To work successfully, a simultaneous interpreter must have a specific functional state. The aim of our study was to find out the basic mechanisms of this functional state, the effect of the simultaneous interpreting on cognitive function changes, and the main factors influencing the degree of the regulatory systems strain.

Materials and Methods. 33 individuals participated in the study: 22 linguists specially trained in simultaneous translation composed the experimental group and 11 language-qualified people having no skills of simultaneous translation represented the control group. In compliance with the study design, the measurements were performed under the conditions similar to the real work of simultaneous interpreters: the participants working in succession performed professional tasks: shadowing in the native and foreign languages (German and English), simultaneous interpretation of the reports from the native language to the foreign, and vice versa. The interpreters were psychologically tested using Web platform before and after the performance on the professional tasks: computer campimetry, test for a simple sensorimotor activity, Stroop test, and test for emotional disadaptation level. Cardiointervalogram was telemetrically recorded during the entire experiment.

Results. Some specific aspects of autonomic provision of simultaneous interpreting have been unraveled. A significantly greater tension of the autonomic regulation is manifested by the simultaneous interpreters compared to the control group. It was most prominent when translation was done from the foreign language. The total level of stress during the performance on the linguistic tasks appeared to be higher in the control group. In the simultaneous interpreters, in contrast to the control group, there was registered a high activity level of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems and a marked integration of the cardiac rhythm regulation circuits over the entire period of performing the linguistic tasks. The psychological tests have demonstrated a significantly more confident cognitive control relative to the control group. Thus, a specific functional system has been formed in the simultaneous interpreters providing a successful interaction of various information images (or codes) and consolidation of autonomic and cognitive resources during the performance on professional tasks. Lack of the necessary skills and, consequently, of the task-oriented functional system in the participants of the control group resulted in the enhancement of the non-specific (less effective) stress response.

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Chernigovskaya T.V., Parina I.S., Alekseeva S.V., Konina A.A., Urich D.K., Mansurova Yu.O., Parin S.B. Simultaneous Interpreting: Characteristic of Autonomic Provision of Extreme Cognitive Loads. Sovremennye tehnologii v medicine 2019; 11(1): 132–140,

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