Methods for Neuro Ergonomy

Neuroergonomics is an emerging science that is defined as the study of the human brain in relation to performance at work and in everyday settings. Essentially, it is the application of neuroscience to ergonomics.


A neuroergonomic approach in usability analysis helps evaluating physical and cognitive work, particularly in task and work accomplishment in a software settings. 


Gaps in Current Methods

Behavioral Studies can be hard to interpret, Measures may not be specific to one construct, and they may not provide much information on the user's’ state. 

  • Questionnaires, “pen and paper” tests are discrete and are not good for real-time assessments. 
  • The “think aloud” protocol is a way to circumvent this, yet it could influence the interaction as users still have two different things to do: interact and report their experience.
  • “Focus groups”  involves experts and advanced users, who exchange about their findings under the control of the designer. 

Resulting measures are prone to be contaminated by ambiguities, social pressure or participants’ memory limitations when answers are not oriented toward experimenters’ expectations if subjects figure out what is at stake.


Although behavioral studies are able to account in real-time for users’ interactions, they can be hard to interpret, measures may not be specific to one construct, and lack definite conclusions regarding:

  • Detecting Person Frustration
  • Determining the level of Control a Person feels towards an interface
  • Evaluating Person’s feeling of Trust/ Distrust in the system
  • Determining the level of Cooperation an interface gives to the person
  • Predicting the feeling of error or when an error is gonna be committed
  • Adapting the interface to the cognitive functions of a person


Benefits of Neuroergonomy

  • Real time capturing on physical user interaction helps in reducing operation errors
  • Integration of brain and body measurements in investigating workload and fatigue
  • Task Performance assessment and increase in user’s vigilance and information retrieval
  • Assessment of concurrent physical and cognitive work and minimizing stressful conditions
  • Better shaping tasks for accurate completion and faster completion
  • Creation of neuroadaptive systems and enhancing Man Machine cooperation


Measures

  • Workload : cognitive resources measures related to the quantity of task demands
  • Vigilance : a state of sustained attention related to Arousal Levels
  • Motivation : an indicator of approach ar avoidance
  • Engagement : degree of involvement, focus, concentration

Interpretations

  • Fatigue : is a state in which cognitive resources are exhausted
  • Error Recognition : the situation that occurs when users detect by themselves an outcome different from what is expected
  • Attention : refers to the ability to focus cognitive resources on a particular stimulus
  • Intent : intentional decision for task completion


Direct Actors/Users

  • UX Designer : Using measures for user affective state related to Motivation, Arousal and Engagement to conclude A/B testing and multi design comparison
  • Usability Expert : Testing the interface towards Mental Workload, Error Detection, ease of use, Loss of time
  • Quality Control Testers : Doing Unitary tests for task models, Predicted Tasks, Several models suggested by the system for the QC to validate
  • User Experience Researcher : Tracking the Experience evolution by analyzing and comparing the historical data for different moments in time across the interface lifetime and changes