Both hardware and protocol improvements are being investigated for the promising application of Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in flight situations in order to assess whether or not a crew member’s cognitive awareness has been impaired. fNIRS is an emerging technique which indirectly measures neuronal activity in the cortex via neurovascular coupling: neurovascular activity patterns can indicate cognitive state. It is non-invasive, relatively portable, inexpensive, and safe for long-term monitoring and repeated measurements. fNIRS exploits the principle that optical absorption changes with blood oxygenation levels through the hemodynamic response. Paper (Aug 2013): Effects of Varying Gravity Levels on fNIRS Headgear Performance and Signal Recovery Paper (Dec 2014): Toward Adaptation of fNIRS Instrumentation to Airborne EnvironmentsMore »
The lack of reliable and self-applicable headgear robust to the influence of motion artifact blocks its operational use in aerospace environments. It is difficult to separate changes due to functional activation from changes due to motion. Both NASA’s Aviation Safety and Human Research Programs may be potential users of this technology.