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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Effects of Performance and Task Duration on Mental Workload during Working Memory Task

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA
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Photonics 2019, 6(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/photonics6030094
Received: 2 July 2019 / Revised: 21 August 2019 / Accepted: 23 August 2019 / Published: 28 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurophotonics – Optics for the Brain)
N-back is a working memory (WM) task to study mental workload on the prefrontal cortex (PFC). We assume that the subject’s performance and changes in mental workload over time depends on the length of the experiment. The performance of the participant can change positively due to the participant’s learning process or negatively because of objective mental fatigue and/or sleepiness. In this pilot study, we examined the PFC activation of 23 healthy subjects while they performed an N-back task with two different levels of task difficulty (2-, and 3-back). The hemodynamic responses were analyzed along with the behavioral data (correct answers). A comparison was done between the hemodynamic activation and behavioral data between the two different task levels and between the beginning and end of the 3-back task. Our results show that there is a significant difference between the two task levels, which is due to the difference in task complication. In addition, a significant difference was seen between the beginning and end of the 3-back task in both behavioral data and hemodynamics due to the subject’s learning process throughout the experiment. View Full-Text
Keywords: fNIRS; working memory; N-back; prefrontal cortex; workload fNIRS; working memory; N-back; prefrontal cortex; workload
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Khaksari, K.; Condy, E.; Millerhagen, J.B.; Anderson, A.A.; Dashtestani, H.; Gandjbakhche, A.H. Effects of Performance and Task Duration on Mental Workload during Working Memory Task. Photonics 2019, 6, 94.

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