The integration of real-time electroencephalogram (EEG) workload indices into the man-machine interface could greatly enhance performance of complex tasks, transforming traditionally passive human-system interaction (HSI) into an active exchange where physiological indicators adjust the interaction to suit a user’s engagement level. The envisioned outcome is a closed-loop system that utilizes EEG and other physiological indices for dynamic regulation and optimization of HSI in real-time. As a first step towards a closed-loop system, five individuals performed as identification supervisors (IDSs) in an Aegis command and control (C2) simulated environment, a combat system with advanced, automatic detect-and-track, multi-function phased array radar. The Aegis task involved monitoring multiple data sources (i.e., missile-tracks, alerts, queries, resources), detecting required actions, responding appropriately, and ensuring system status remains within desired parameters. During task operation, a preliminary workload measure calculated in real-time for each second of EEG and was used to manipulate the Aegis task demands. In post-hoc analysis, the use of a five-level workload measure to detect cognitively challenging events was evaluated. Events in decreasing order of difficulty were track selection-identification, alert-responses, hooking-tracks, and queries. High/extreme EEG-workload occurred during high cognitive-load tasks with a detection efficiency approaching 100% for selection-identification and alert-responses, 77% for hooking-tracks and 70% for queries. Over 95% of high/extreme EEG-workload across participants occurred during high-difficulty events (false positive rate < 5%). The high/extreme workload occurred between 25-30% of time. These results suggest an intelligent closed-loop system incorporating EEG-workload measures could be designed to re-allocate tasks and aid in efficiently streamlining a user’s cognitive workload. Such an approach could ensure the operator remains uninterrupted during high/extreme workload periods, thereby resulting in increased productivity and reduced errors.
Electroencephalographic (EEG) and neurocognitive measures were simultaneously acquired to quantify alertness from 24 participants during 44-hours of sleep deprivation. Performance on a three-choice vigilance task (3C-VT), paired-associate learning/memory task (PAL) and modified Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT), and sleep technician-observed drowsiness (eye-closures, head-nods, EEG slowing) were quantified. The B-Alert system automatically classifies each second of EEG on an alertness/drowsiness continuum. B-Alert classifications were significantly correlated with technician-observations, visually scored EEG and performance measures. B-Alert classifications during 3C-VT, and technician observations and performance during the 3C-VT and PAL evidenced progressively increasing drowsiness as a result of sleep deprivation with a stabilizing effect observed at the batteries occurring between 0600 and 1100 suggesting a possible circadian effect similar to those reported in previous sleep deprivation studies. Participants were given an opportunity to take a 40-minute nap approximately 24-hours into the sleep deprivation portion of the study (i.e., 7 PM on Saturday). The nap was followed by a transient period of increased alertness. Approximately 8 hours after the nap, behavioral and physiological measures of drowsiness returned to levels prior to the nap. Cluster analysis was used to stratify individuals into three groups based on their level of impairment as a result of sleep deprivation. The combination of B-Alert and neuro-behavioral measures may identify individuals whose performance is most susceptible to sleep deprivation. These objective measures could be applied in an operational setting to provide a “biobehavioral assay” to determine vulnerability to sleep deprivation.