The Effects of Multiple-Intervention Neurofeedback on Engineering Design Ideation

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Virginia Tech


This research explores the application of neuro-cognitive feedback in enhancing the ideation phase of engineering design. Brainstorming is identified as a dominant method for ideation, relying on cognitive processes linked to memory. Neuro-cognitive feedback is introduced as a technique to maintain high cognitive responses during ideation by providing information about brain states, aiding in semantic processing and attention. The study employs functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) for neuro-cognitive feedback (NF), showing its advantages in spatial and temporal resolution, mobility, and cost over EEG and fMRI. This feedback method involves placing sensors in a headband on the forehead to measure cortical activity and provide real-time feedback to participants. The technique has been validated in various fields, including medicine, sports, and the arts, for enhancing cognitive and creative performance. A key focus of the research is on the effects of neuro-cognitive feedback on ideation and brain behavior. The research method involved recruiting engineering graduate students, employing various design tasks, and using fNIRS for data collection and analysis. It reveals differences in brain behavior between the baseline and neuro-cognitive feedback sessions, particularly in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is associated with generating new ideas. Multiple neurofeedback sessions showed performance improvements in engineering design tasks, with changes in task-related oxygenation in the prefrontal cortex. The study concludes that neuro-cognitive feedback enhances ideation by providing a sustained high cognitive response, aiding in self-regulatory control of brain activity, and improving performance in various cognitive tasks. The results indicate significant improvements in ideation fluency and time spent on tasks with neurofeedback, suggesting its effectiveness in enhancing cognitive functions in engineering design.



fNIRS, Design, Neurofeedback, Engineering