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Table of Contents
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 112-113

Neuroergonomics: An emerging scope

Department of Physiotherapy, Teerthanker Mahaveer University, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission10-Mar-2023
Date of Decision05-May-2023
Date of Acceptance03-Jul-2023
Date of Web Publication11-Aug-2023

Correspondence Address:
Ms. Komal Nagar
Department of Physiotherapy, Teerthanker Mahaveer University, Delhi Road, Moradabad - 244 001, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijptr.ijptr_38_23

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How to cite this article:
Nagar K, Malhan S, Khan F. Neuroergonomics: An emerging scope. Indian J Phys Ther Res 2023;5:112-3

How to cite this URL:
Nagar K, Malhan S, Khan F. Neuroergonomics: An emerging scope. Indian J Phys Ther Res [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Sep 27];5:112-3. Available from: https://www.ijptr.org/text.asp?2023/5/1/112/383678

  Introduction Top

A study of the brain and behavior at a workplace or service is termed as neuroergonomics, which combines neuroscience with ergonomics to maximize the advantages of both fields. The focus is to interpret the form and function of the brain in terms of the human behavior in everyday environments.[1] Neuroergonomics is having a multifaceted approach to study the brain that includes neuroscience, cognition, psychology as well as the aspect of ergonomics. Therefore, the focus is on cognitive and perceptual functions in relation to technology. The use of this knowledge can be applied to modern semi-automated systems, such as aviation, driving, neuroengineering, and virtual reality, for example, driving safety, basically in drivers with cognitive impairment. As driving is associated with complex cognitive processing, neuroergonomics is helpful in predicting safety outcomes through controlled laboratory findings.[2]

The technological advancements in computer science and engineering have revolutionized neuroscience methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), neural prosthetics, and other technologies for physically disabled individuals. The cognitive engineering framework views humans and computer systems as a “joint cognitive system” due to human interaction with technology in the context of neuroergonomics.[3]

When studying the interaction of the mind with the physical world, it is imperative to study how the design artifacts best facilitate this interaction. To fully understand the affinity of intelligence or cognition, movement, and existence, one has to examine the interaction of the human brain with the external environment.[3]

One of the methods through which neuroergonomic research and practice is carried out is medical imaging techniques specifically for the brain. These are comprising the following two techniques: the first method is establishing on the ground of cerebral blood flow measurement such as positron emission tomography (PET), fMRI, transcranial Doppler sonography, and TCD and the other establishes on the ground of the brain's electromagnetic activity such as electroencephalography (EEG), event-related potential (ERP), and magnetoencephalography. Oculomotor techniques can also be used for neuroergonomic research, which provides important information with the advantage of speed and accuracy.[3]

  Applications of Neuroergonomics Top

The human brain has around 86 billion neurons which help in forming connections. Neuroergonomics focuses on the cerebral cortex that controls motor control and functioning. There have been numerous advancements in brain assessment such as “EEG, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), pupillometry, electrocardiogram, fMRI, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and recurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).”[3]

The most common technique used in neuroergonomics is EEG, a noninvasive technique, in which electrodes are placed directly on an individual's scalp to measure the brain's spontaneous electrical activity. Neuroergonomics deals with both physical and mental activities, including fatigue. Neuroergonomics measures not only cognition but also physical performance related to brain anatomical structures. The brain has a predominant role in certain controlling activities such as “performance, fatigue, emotion, cognition, and perception in relation to physical movement.”[3]

EEG can also be used to measure certain tasks such as load levels, intensity, modes, stages of task preparation, and execution. Various sets of rhythmic activities, such as alpha, beta, theta, and gamma, are observed in EEG during fatigue, cognition, and reduced physical activity.[3]

Studies related to neuroergonomics are based on neuroimaging techniques to acknowledge the anatomy and physiology of the brain at work. These techniques are classified into two categories: one includes EEG and ERPs and the other includes fMRI, fNIRS, and PET.[4]

EEG and ERPs are direct indicators of the brain's neuronal activity, whereas fMRI, fNIRS, and PET provide information related to metabolic indicators. EEG signals are recorded from the scalp as summated neuronal electrical activity. fMRI and PET modalities are used to study the cerebral blood flow related to that neuronal activity and anticipate the exact locations of neuronal structure.[4]

In the course of plain, stable, analytical motor tasks, fMRI and PET both play an important role in improving one's knowledge regarding brain anatomy and physiology. Throughout any static or dynamic activity, fNIRS is a cheap portable essential tool used to activate neuronal activity, leading to no damage. Transcranial doppler sonography (TCDS) is also used these days in neuroergonomics to assess attention and mental workload.[4]

According to a study, brain blood flow and volume get altered by other system changes during any physical activity. TMS and TDCS are the other modalities used to regulate or amplify brain activity in order to improve performance. These techniques are usually applied to amplify performance beyond the baseline and to eliminate limitations related to normal performance in tasks that require surveillance.[5]

“Physical neuroergonomics is an eminent branch of study that focuses on the relationship between the activities of the human brain and the control and design related to physical tasks with respect to an operator's physical, cognitive, and affective proficiency and hindrance.”[5]

Among all neuroimaging techniques, EEG assesses whole-body fatigue as it provides important flexibility and mobility features. Kubitz and Mott observed and demonstrated increased brain activation during an exhausting cycling activity by acquiring information on eye movement and spontaneous EEG signals. For fatigue evaluation, fNIRS has achieved tremendous focus over EEG. An individual's mental workload is directly proportional to their performance in the work environment, and eventually, their safety suffers. Therefore, workload assessment is necessary in the work environment, and it can be assessed by behavioral measures such as accuracy, agility, or other subjective tasks that are assessed by NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX).[5]

Association between an individual and neuroergonomics plays an important role in his or her efficiency at work, such as an aircraft pilot or a machine operator, and their brain's state, such as their mental workload, frustration level, exertion, and energy level. This association between an internal and external state of an individual may help evaluate and estimate neurocognitive status in the field of neuropsychology. NASA-TLX is one of such measures. The application of workload in neuropsychology in the initial stages is effective. More experiments, research studies, and focus are required in the biological and cognitive areas of the brain regarding their modifications, requirements in mental health, and pathology. Moreover, to enhance the neurocognitive status of a patient, workload can be added specifically for neuropsychological testing to retrieve more information related to the human brain and its performance. Workload assessment proves to be a contemporary concept of neurocognitive residuum when performed in the clinical population. Integration of human beings and neuroergonomics with neuropsychology is a complex task, but it is an evolving field of neuroergonomics where not only the brain's anatomical structure and functions are integrated, but also human performance and their workload are integrated.[6]

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Parasuraman R. Neuroergonomics: Research and practice. Theor Issues Ergon Sci 2003;4:5-20.  Back to cited text no. 1
Lees MN, Cosman JD, Lee JD, Fricke N, Rizzo M. Translating cognitive neuroscience to the driver's operational environment: A neuroergonomic approach. Am J Psychol 2010;123:391-411.  Back to cited text no. 2
Rahman M, Karwowski W, Fafrowicz M, Hancock PA. Neuroergonomics applications of electroencephalography in physical activities: A systematic review. Front Hum Neurosci 2019;13:182.  Back to cited text no. 3
Warm JS, Parasuraman R, Matthews G. Vigilance requires hard mental work and is stressful. Hum Factors 2008;50:433-41.  Back to cited text no. 4
Mehta RK, Parasuraman R. Neuroergonomics: A review of applications to physical and cognitive work. Front Hum Neurosci 2013;7:889.  Back to cited text no. 5
Hardy DJ. Neuroergonomics: A perspective from neuropsychology, with a proposal about workload. Brain Sci 2021;11:647.  Back to cited text no. 6


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