Cortical activity and functional hyperconnectivity by simultaneous EEG recordings from interacting couples of professional pilots.

L. Astolfi, J. Toppi, G. Borghini, G. Vecchiato, E. J. He, A. Roy, F. Cincotti, S. Salinari, D. Mattia, B. He, F. Babiloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Controlling an aircraft during a flight is a compelling condition, which requires a strict and well coded interaction between the crew. The interaction level between the Captain and the First Officer changes during the flight, ranging from a maximum (during takeoff and landing, as well as in case of a failure of the instrumentation or other emergency situations) to a minimum during quiet mid-flight. In this study, our aim is to investigate the neural correlates of different kinds and levels of interaction between couples of professional crew members by means of the innovative technique called brain hyperscanning, i.e. the simultaneous recording of the hemodynamic or neuroelectrical activity of different human subjects involved in interaction tasks. This approach allows the observation and modeling of the neural signature specifically dependent on the interaction between subjects, and, even more interestingly, of the functional links existing between the brain activities of the subjects interacting together. In this EEG hyperscanning study, different phases of a flight were reproduced in a professional flight simulator, which allowed, on one side, to reproduce the ecological setting of a real flight, and, on the other, to keep under control the different levels of interaction induced in the crew by means of systematic and simulated failures of the aircraft instrumentation. Results of the procedure of linear inverse estimation, together with functional hyperconnectivity estimated by means of Partial Directed Coherence, showed a dense network of connections between the activity in the two brains in the takeoff and landing phases, when the cooperation between the crew is maximal, while conversely no significant links were shown during the phases in which the activity of the two pilots was independent.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics


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