Defense Date

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Ou Bai

Abstract

This thesis investigated the effect of visuomotor and working memory 1) task difficulty and 2) multitasking on dynamic functional connectivity in the brain. Studies have only recently begun to investigate functional connectivity within the scope of concurrent dual task or varying task difficulty conditions (Cocchi, Zalesky, et al. 2011; Rietschel et al. 2012). A series of EEG recordings were conducted during execution of visuomotor or working memory tasks within a novel paradigm using BCI2VR custom MATLAB toolbox. Functional connectivity was correlated with task-related coherence (TRCoh) analysis between two task conditions involving either variation in task difficulty or concurrent execution during multitasking within the delta (0 – 4 Hz), theta (4 – 8 Hz), alpha (8 – 12 Hz), beta1 (12-16 Hz), beta2 (16 – 20 Hz) and beta3 (20 – 24 Hz) frequency bands. An increase in coherence was observed with increased cognitive load, during both increased task difficulty and multitasking, in all frequency bands except beta1 and beta2. This may suggest that the psychomotor efficiency hypothesis also applies to multitasking as well as task difficulty. Decreases in beta coherence were observed with increased performance error, indicating that interregional beta coherence may not follow the PEH trend. The increased coherence between brain regions in the alpha, delta and theta bands contributes to the growing volume of research on quantifying cognitive workload and may serve as a future basis on increasing multitasking efficiency during high stress environments. Further research recording multitasking effects on individuals over regular intervals during an extended period of time (months or years) will be required to better understand changes in functional connectivity within the brain.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2013

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