Nonlinear Hemodynamic of Workload and Workload Transitions




McKendrick, Ryan

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Quantifying and classifying cognitive load (i.e. how individuals cognitively respond to the demands of a task) is important for optimal performance. How cognitive load changes over time (i.e. workload transitions) alters the perception of cognitive load and performance. Activity in prefrontal cortex has previously been associated with working memory load. Furthermore, attenuation of prefrontal activity has been linked to cognitive overload, a cognitive load state associated with failures in task performance. We hypothesized that a similar nonlinearity would be observed for cognitive underload, a cognitive load state associated with mind wandering and inefficient attention strategies. These two nonlinearities for cognitive underload and overload would manifest as a cubic function in lateral prefrontal cortex relating to working memory load. Observation of this function would allow for objective classification of different cognitive load states. These states could then be identified in individual performers and used to study the effects of workload transitions to different cognitive load states. Workload transitions were hypothesized to induce an increase in cognitive load as indexed by changes in oxygenated hemoglobin in lateral prefrontal cortex.



Cognitive psychology, Neurosciences, Cognitive Load, Cognitive States, FNIRS, Working memory