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Mental workload and neural efficiency quantified in the prefrontal cortex using fNIRS

Causse, Mickaël and Chua, Zarrin and Peysakhovich, Vsevolod and Del Campo, Natalia and Matton, Nadine Mental workload and neural efficiency quantified in the prefrontal cortex using fNIRS. (2018) Scientific Reports, 7. 1-15. ISSN 2045-2322

(Document in English)

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-05378-x


An improved understanding of how the brain allocates mental resources as a function of task difficulty is critical for enhancing human performance. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a fielddeployable optical brain monitoring technology that provides a direct measure of cerebral blood flow in response to cognitive activity. We found that fNIRS was sensitive to variations in task difficulty in both real-life (flight simulator) and laboratory settings (tests measuring executive functions), showing increased concentration of oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO2) and decreased concentration of deoxygenated hemoglobin (HHb) in the prefrontal cortex as the tasks became more complex. Intensity of prefrontal activation (HbO2 concentration) was not clearly correlated to task performance. Rather, activation intensity shed insight on the level of mental effort, i.e., how hard an individual was working to accomplish a task. When combined with performance, fNIRS provided an estimate of the participants’ neural efficiency, and this efficiency was consistent across levels of difficulty of the same task. Overall, our data support the suitability of fNIRS to assess the mental effort related to human operations and represents a promising tool for the measurement of neural efficiency in other contexts such as training programs or the clinical setting.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Scientific Reports. The definitive version is available at https://www.nature.com/srep/ The original PDF of the article can be found at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-05378-x
HAL Id:hal-01565168
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile - ENAC (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - INSERM (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace - ISAE-SUPAERO (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès - UT2J (FRANCE)
Other partners > Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes - EPHE (FRANCE)
Other partners > Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse - CHU Toulouse (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université Bordeaux Montaigne (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université Laval (CANADA)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:19 Jul 2017 13:15

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