Mental Workload Drives Different Reorganizations of Functional Cortical Connectivity Between 2D and 3D Simulated Flight Experiments

Ioannis Kakkos, Georgios N. Dimitrakopoulos, Lingyun Gao, Yuan Zhang, Peng Qi, George K. Matsopoulos, Nitish Thakor, anastasios Bezerianos, Yu Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Despite the apparent usefulness of efficient mental workload assessment in various real-world situations, the underlying neural mechanism remains largely unknown, and studies of the mental workload are limited to well-controlled cognitive tasks using a 2D computer screen. In this paper, we investigated functional brain network alterations in a simulated flight experiment with three mental workload levels and compared the reorganization pattern between computer screen (2D) and virtual reality (3D) interfaces. We constructed multiband functional networks in electroencephalogram (EEG) source space, which were further assessed in terms of network efficiency and workload classification performances. We found that increased alpha band efficiencies and beta band local efficiency were associated with elevated mental workload levels, while beta band global efficiency exhibited distinct development trends between 2D and 3D interfaces. Furthermore, using a small subset of connectivity features, we achieved a satisfactory multi-level workload classification accuracy in both interfaces (82% for both 2D and 3D). Further inspection of these discriminative connectivity subsets, we found predominant alpha band connectivity features followed by beta and theta band features with different topological patterns between 2D and 3D interfaces. These findings allow for a more comprehensive interpretation of the neural mechanisms of mental workload in relation to real-world assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1704-1713
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering : a publication of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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