Neural Adaptation to a Working Memory Task: A Concurrent EEG-fNIRS Study

  • Yichuan LiuEmail author
  • Hasan Ayaz
  • Banu Onaral
  • Patricia A. Shewokis
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9183)


Simultaneously recorded electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) measures from sixteen subjects were used to assess neural correlates of a letter based n-back working memory task. We found that EEG alpha power increased and prefrontal cortical oxygenation decreased with increased practice time for the high memory load condition (2-back), suggesting lower brain activation and a tendency toward the ‘idle’ state. The cortical oxygenation changes for the low memory load conditions (0-back and 1-back) changed very little throughout the training session which the behavioral scores showed high accuracy and a ceiling effect. No significant effect of practice time were found for theta power or the behavioral performance measures.


Multimodality EEG fNIRS Working memory Mental workload Practice time Adaptation 



This study is made possible in part by a research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) IIS: 1065471 (Shewokis, PI). The content of the information herein does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the sponsors and no official endorsement should be inferred.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yichuan Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hasan Ayaz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Banu Onaral
    • 1
    • 2
  • Patricia A. Shewokis
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health SystemsDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Cognitive Neuroengineering and Quantitative Experimental Research (CONQUER) CollaborativeDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Nutrition Sciences Department, College of Nursing and Health ProfessionsDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Surgery, College of MedicineDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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