This is a project to develop new methods for scientifically studying and assessing human cognitive function. It will employ sophisticated statistical multimodal data analysis techniques that will fuse contextual, behavioral, and neural information simultaneously obtained from human beings in the process of completing complex batteries of cognitive tasks. The tasks will be presented in the form of customized computer games that are designed to exhibit the crucial aspects of established cognitive assessment tests and at the same time provide a motivating and engaging environment for the subject’s interactions with the game and computer agents. The tasks will involve exploiting our existing capabilities of monitoring and controlling certain enjoyable and challenging computer games that involve various combinations of cognitive tasks ranging from working memory and attention to executive functions. Multimodal information fusion will be accomplished by utilizing Bayesian inference techniques and information theoretic data analysis and dimensionality reduction methods.
The work to be carried out under this grant aims to develop sophisticated pattern analysis techniques for the purpose of analyzing the fine-grain behaviors of elderly when they are engaged in complex cognitive tasks in the form of computer games. Expected significant scientific findings from the proposed research are two-fold: (1) improved statistical signal processing and pattern recognition algorithms for EEG processing, (2) an enhanced understanding of the interplay of multiple cognitive processes and their neural signatures in EEG during the execution of complex tasks.
The approach is innovative in terms of three aspects: (1) an advanced adaptive interaction protocol that modifies the task parameters to maintain maximal sensitivity to cognitive state changes will be employed, (2) novel information theoretic techniques will be developed and utilized for the extraction of maximally discriminative features from EEG measurements for cognitive state estimation and neural activity visualization, (3) the developed closed-loop system will be utilized to study the human-agent interaction in complex cognitive tasks resulting in mathematical models of micro-behavior in realistic evolving environments as opposed to traditional stationary repetitive experimental paradigms.
The successful completion of the work will open the way to further collaborative activities in brain interface design, closed-loop collaborative augmented cognition human-agent interfaces for improved performance, and early diagnosis of cognitive decline in elderly. An interdisciplinary research environment will engage the participating graduate students in a multidisciplinary educational setting and will help them develop skills to perform collaborative interdisciplinary research.
Northeastern University’s College of Engineering is home to numerous federally-funded research centers and an array of leading-edge projects and initiatives that advance discovery and new knowledge in health, sustainability, and security.