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Neurofeedback Training of Fronto-medial Theta Oscillations as a Tool to Mitigate Engagement Issues While Flying

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ISAE-SUPAERO Conference paper

The 1st International Conference on Cognitive Aircraft

Systems – ICCAS

March 18-19, 2020

https://events.isae-supaero.fr/event/2

Scientific Committee

Mickaël Causse, ISAE-SUPAERO

Caroline Chanel, ISAE-SUPAERO

Jean-Charles Chaudemar, ISAE-SUPAERO

Stéphane Durand, Dassault Aviation

Bruno Patin, Dassault Aviation

Nicolas Devaux, Dassault Aviation

Jean-Louis Gueneau, Dassault Aviation

Claudine Mélan, Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès

Jean-Paul Imbert, ENAC

Permanent link :

https://doi.org/10.34849/cfsb-t270

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ICCAS 2020 Neurofeedback Training of Fronto- …

Neurofeedback Training of Fronto-medial Theta

Oscillations as a Tool to Mitigate Engagement Issues

While Flying

Content

Introduction

Flying is a multitasking and complex activity that requires high working memory, mental flexi-bility and inhibition abilities 1. It is now well admitted that stressors (eg. fatigue, psychological stress) can impair this executive functioning to an extent that pilots fail to face task demands and to adapt to external contingencies 1–[4]. Several solutions ranging from adaptive automation to the design of cognitive countermeasures have been successfully implemented [5]–[7]. A com-plementary approach is to consider the use of preventive approaches such as the neurofeedback technique. Indeed, neurofeedback allows displaying online cerebral activity using brain imaging techniques (e.g., EEG, fNIRS, fMRI) in order to teach self-regulation of brain functioning [8], [9]. Recent studies have highlighted that neurofeedback training is particularly relevant to improve performance in controlled settings [10], [11], but also in more ecological contexts [12], [13]. In addition, it has been shown that frontal-medial theta [4-8] Hz, which is regarded as the “working language” for neural communication of executive functioning can improve basic executive func-tions [14] . Consequently, we assume that training pilots in order to increase their theta activity in the fronto-medial cortex will help them perform better in tasks involving executive functions. Materials and Method

Twenty student-pilots at ISAE-SUPAERO will be recruited for that study. They will be randomly split into two groups. The first group will get a neurofeedback training (eight sessions consisting of eight 5-min blocks). During each session, the participants will be equipped with a 32 active wet-electrode (500 Hz) EEG system positioned according to the 10-20 system in order to record their brain activity. A visual feedback (square) will be displayed on a screen and will change its color ac-cording to the quantity of theta oscillation recorded (Figure 1A). Participants will be instructed to keep the square red as much and as long as possible. The second group will be equipped the same way and will receive the same instructions but they will actually perform a fake training (“Sham”). In other words, the variation of the colored square will be random except during eye-blinks where the square will become grey in order to increase the participants’ confidence in the experimental setting.

Before and after those training sessions both groups have to perform two cognitive tasks (Figure 1B). The first one is designed to separately assess the aforementioned executive functions at a fundamental level through scores and reaction times. The second one is the Multi-Attribute Task Battery (MATB-II) [15] which mimics some aspects of piloting an aircraft (e.g., tracking, communi-cations, resources management, conflict monitoring); see Figure 1C. During this task, behavioral and eye-tracking data will be collected.

FIGURE1

Figure 1. Illustration of the protocol (A), illustration of the Multi-Attribute Task Battery (MATB-II) [15] (B) and illustration of the setting for both the neurofeedback and the sham trainings (C) Outlooks

Our first goal is to identify which executive functions can be improved through neurofeedback training of fronto-medial brain activity. Secondly, we want to assess if it benefits piloting-related tasks such as the MATB. Lastly, we plan to assess the pilots’ performance in more ecological set-tings with the aid of a flight simulator and by using neurofeedback directly within the cockpit. Acknowledgement

The Cocpit Project is part of the Projet d’Etude Amont Man-Machine Teaming (PEA MMT) funded Dr LAFONT, Alex (ISAE-SUPAERO, Université de Toulouse, France ); Dr ROY, Raphaëlle (ISAE-SUPAERO, Université de Toulouse, France); Dr CHANEL, Caroline (ISAE-SUPAERO, Université de Toulouse, France ); Dr ENRIQUEZ-GEPPERT, Stefanie (University of Groningen); Prof. DEHAIS, Frédéric (ISAE-SUPAERO, Université de Toulouse, France ; Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)

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ICCAS 2020 Neurofeedback Training of Fronto- … by Agence de l’Innovation de la Défense (AID) coordinated by Thales and Dassault.

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Keywords : Training

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