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Investigating mental workload-induced changes in cortical oxygenation and frontal theta activity during simulated flights

Hamann, Anneke and Carstengerdes, Nils (2022) Investigating mental workload-induced changes in cortical oxygenation and frontal theta activity during simulated flights. Scientific Reports, 12 (1), p. 6449. Nature Publishing Group. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-10044-y. ISSN 2045-2322.

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Official URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-10044-y


Monitoring pilots' cognitive states becomes increasingly important in aviation. Physiological measurement can detect increased mental workload (MWL) even before performance declines.Yet, changes in MWL are rarely varied systematically and few studies control for confounding effects of other cognitive states. The present study targets these shortcomings by analysing the effects of stepwise increased MWL on cortical activation, while controlling for mental fatigue (MF). 35 participants conducted a simulated flight with an incorporated adapted n‑back and monitoring task. We recorded cortical activation with concurrent EEG and fNIRS measurement, performance, self‑reported MWL and MF. Our results show the successful manipulation of MWL without confounding effects of MF. Higher task difficulty elicited higher subjective MWL ratings, performance decline, higher frontal theta activity and reduced frontal deoxyhaemoglobin (Hbr) concentration. Using both EEG and fNIRS, we could discriminate all induced MWL levels. fNIRS was more sensitive to tasks with low difficulty, and EEG to tasks with high difficulty. Our findings further suggest a plateau effect for high MWL that could present an upper boundary to individual cognitive capacity. Our results highlight the benefits of physiological measurement in aviation, both for assessment of cognitive states and as a data source for adaptive assistance systems.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/185829/
Document Type:Article
Title:Investigating mental workload-induced changes in cortical oxygenation and frontal theta activity during simulated flights
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Hamann, AnnekeUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-6312-5116UNSPECIFIED
Carstengerdes, NilsUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-4056-1502UNSPECIFIED
Date:19 April 2022
Journal or Publication Title:Scientific Reports
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:p. 6449
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
Keywords:aviation; mental workload; mental fatigue; EEG; electroencephalography; fNIRS; functional near-infrared spectroscopy
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Aeronautics
HGF - Program Themes:Air Transportation and Impact
DLR - Research area:Aeronautics
DLR - Program:L AI - Air Transportation and Impact
DLR - Research theme (Project):L - Human Factors
Location: Braunschweig
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Flight Guidance > Systemergonomy
Deposited By: Hamann, Anneke
Deposited On:09 May 2022 10:57
Last Modified:28 Jun 2022 11:27

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