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Observing the Brain-on-Task using Functional Optical Brain Imaging

Thursday, May 17, 2018

12:00 PM-1:30 PM

BIOMED Special Seminar

Observing the Brain-on-Task Using Functional Optical Brain Imaging

Hasan Ayaz, PhD
Associate Research Professor
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems
Drexel University

The efficiency and safety of complex high precision human-machine systems such as in aerospace and robotic surgery are closely related to the cognitive readiness, ability to manage workload and situational awareness of their operators. Subjective operator reports, physiological and behavioral measures are not sufficiently reliable to monitor cognitive overload that can lead to adverse outcomes. A key feature of the concept of mental workload - that reflects how hard the brain is working to meet task demands – is that it can be dissociated from behavioral performance data. Experienced human operators can maintain performance at required levels for a while through increased effort and motivation or strategy changes, even in the face of increased task challenge. Sustained task demands, however, eventually lead to performance decline unless the upward trend in mental workload can be used to predict subsequent performance breakdown. Consequently, it is important to assess mental workload independent of performance measures during training and operational missions.

Neuroergonomic approaches based on measures of human brain hemodynamic activity can provide sensitive and reliable assessment of human mental workload in complex training and work environments. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a field-deployable non-invasive optical brain monitoring technology that provides a measure of cerebral hemodynamics within the prefrontal cortex in response to sensory, motor, or cognitive activation.

This presentation will examine the relationship of the hemodynamic response in the prefrontal cortex to expertise development levels, mental workload state and task performance in a variety of application areas.

Hasan Ayaz, PhD, is an Associate Research Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University, with adjunct affiliations at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as a courtesy appointment with Drexel's Department of Psychology. He is a core member of the Functional Optical Brain Imaging Group of the Cognitive Neuroengineering and Quantitative Experimental Research (CoNQuER) Collaborative.

For over 15 years, Dr. Ayaz worked on the development of miniaturized continuous wave near infrared spectroscopy sensors focusing on utilizing functional neuroimaging in natural environments and everyday settings. He has developed enabling brain monitoring systems that are now used routinely in research settings as well as FDA approved medical devices that are deployed for emergency care in hospitals and ambulances. Dr. Ayaz’s research interests include functional optical neuroimaging and neuroengineering as well as neuroergonomic applications for clinical and field settings.

Contact Information

Ken Barbee

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