Testing fNIRS systems on pilots

NASA Glenn Research Center researchers used the fNIRS system (functional near infrared spectroscopy system) to analyze the cognitive abilities of the brain of pilots making transatlantic flights. During long flights, there is enough time to collect a large amount of data regarding the cognitive states and phases of active brain function. The technique developed by NASA employees is used to constantly monitor the pilot’s brain during critical tasks regarding safe movement during flight or driving long-distance trains. This method uses near-infrared light, which is detected by sensors on the pilot’s head, and the signal processing set-top box allows real-time monitoring. The system not only detects changes in the cognitive state by tracking hemoglobin levels in the blood in the brain, but also filters out irrelevant artifacts, such as the sensor’s own movement associated with shaking the pilot’s head. It is expected that next year all of the Boeing Corporation pilots will be equipped with these innovative systems to improve flight safety, since critical issues are related to the decision time at the time of aircraft take-off and landing, while the rest of the work is related to maintaining the course Autopilot takes over.

  Currently, NASA Research Center employees are adapting the fNIRS system for its implementation in the following areas: • Safety modeling, training and monitoring of the state of airline pilots, train and public transport engineers, ship captains, truck drivers, crane operators and other heavy equipment, air traffic controllers. • Military simulations and training on fighter jets. • Real-time monitoring and feedback during patient rehabilitation from cognitive impairment and depression. • Addition to functional visualization of brain activity

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