Mental fatigue is a commonly experienced state that can be induced by placing heavy demands on cognitive systems. This often leads to lowered productivity and increased safety risks. In this study, we developed a functional-connectivity based mental fatigue monitoring method. Twenty-six subjects underwent a 20-min mentally demanding test of sustained attention with high-resolution EEG monitoring. Functional connectivity patterns were obtained on the cortical surface via source localization of cortical activities in the first and last 5-min quartiles of the experiment. Multivariate pattern analysis was then adopted to extract the highly discriminative functional connectivity information. The algorithm used in the present study demonstrated an overall accuracy of 81.5% (p < 0.0001) for fatigue classification through leave-one-out cross validation. Moreover, we found that the most discriminative connectivity features were located in or across middle frontal gyrus and several motor areas, in agreement with the important role that these cortical regions play in the maintenance of sustained attention. This work therefore demonstrates the feasibility of a functional-connectivity-based mental fatigue assessment method, opening up a new avenue for modeling natural brain dynamics under different mental states. Our method has potential applications in several domains, including traffic and industrial safety.
- Electroencephalography (EEG)
- Multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA)
- Partial directed coherence (PDC)
- Psychomotor vigilance test (PVT)