Posted on Oct 19, 2008 by Mac Zborowski
Finally! The testing has started! We're getting data!
Last week, I got to complete a round of testing. Though this didn't involve the fNIRS setup (lasers), it did utilize an EEG, or electroencephalography (pronounced with a sneeze).
The EEG that we have involves sensors in little watch battery size capsules that have small electrodes touching the scalp, and they are attached to a hair net - like cap. The cap is then cinched onto my head. The senors record electrical impulses that the brain gives off, and transfer that data into a software package on a computer.
To get a good connection between my scalp and the electrodes inside the sensors, Terry used a solution made up of potassium chloride, water, and baby shampoo, you heard right...BABY SHAMPOO. For the rest of the day, I smelled like a baby! (...all in the name of science, right?)
The image below is the EEG setup using the pitch - roll seat and a baby shampoo smelling guinea pig...me!
The test was a series of smaller tasks that involved resting, finger tapping, word association, flight of an ultralight aircraft in the simulator, and a response exercise.
Resting was the same as with the fNIRS test from the previous post. Though, this time instead of thinking of floating on the ISS, I was thinking of cruising in an F104 Starfighter (Kelly Johnson, look him up).
Yes, believe it or not, that is relaxing to me.
Then came the finger tapping test that I completed before, using the fNIRS.
After that, word association. Again, same as the previous exercise using the fNIRS.
Then came some FUN! We fired up the simulator and the seat. I was tasked with flying an ultralight through a series of gates. This wasn't that intense of a task considering the simulated ultralight doesn't need crisp control actions. It's what I call "lazy flying." Nice and slow flying with subdued control inputs.
There were 3 gates that varied in elevation and required me to increase and decrease power using the throttle. That was a fun test, primarily because it not only supplied data from a test subject that was flying using the simulator, but also because the gates were located at Edwards Air Force Base!
Finally, the black box task. Ughhh, those black squares...
Angela tells me that the task was taken from a series or tests that are used to test cognition as well as other psychological issues. The task that I'll be talking about is #3 (TOVA) in the list in the link:
So, I was tasked with a test that recorded my response to a series of black squares that appeared on the screen of pitch - roll seat. I was to look at the screen and tap the space bar every time a small black square appeared in the top half of a big white square. I was NOT supposed to tap the space bar when the small black square appeared in the bottom half of the big white square. Here's the kicker: I had to watch for the little, small, blinking, and really annoying black square for 20+ minutes!! Yes, 20+ minutes...that's 1200+ seconds, or almost half an hour just watching, waiting, tapping, NOT tapping, CONCENTRATING.
I think that this was a better test then all of the others. I was really forced to concentrate for this task, making sure that I don't tap the key, that I tap the key. Sounds simple, right? Ha! Don't forget about your eyes, your muscles, your body. I was sitting in one position for 20+ minutes looking at one area in my field - of - view, trying not to blink when the squares appeared, and blinking when I just pressed or not pressed the key. Awesome test, but boy was that ANNOYING. But nothing gets annoying more than this: I MISSED ONE! I pressed the key when I should not have!! (*..insert sigh here*).
All in all, it was great to get the first official test knocked out. I hope that Angela can get some good data from all those tasks.
Below is a pic I took right after the test...remember...I smelled like baby shampoo when i took this pic! I'd like to thank Angela and Terry for making me look like this for the rest of the day...