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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Dec 18;7:871. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00871.

Continuous monitoring of brain dynamics with functional near infrared spectroscopy as a tool for neuroergonomic research: empirical examples and a technological development.

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School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University Philadelphia, PA, USA.
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University Philadelphia, PA, USA ; Nutrition Sciences Department, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition, George Mason University Fairfax, VA, USA.


Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive, safe, and portable optical neuroimaging method that can be used to assess brain dynamics during skill acquisition and performance of complex work and everyday tasks. In this paper we describe neuroergonomic studies that illustrate the use of fNIRS in the examination of training-related brain dynamics and human performance assessment. We describe results of studies investigating cognitive workload in air traffic controllers, acquisition of dual verbal-spatial working memory skill, and development of expertise in piloting unmanned vehicles. These studies used conventional fNIRS devices in which the participants were tethered to the device while seated at a workstation. Consistent with the aims of mobile brain imaging (MoBI), we also describe a compact and battery-operated wireless fNIRS system that performs with similar accuracy as other established fNIRS devices. Our results indicate that both wired and wireless fNIRS systems allow for the examination of brain function in naturalistic settings, and thus are suitable for reliable human performance monitoring and training assessment.


fNIRS; hemodynamic response; optical brain monitoring; prefrontal cortex; wireless NIRS; working memory training

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