Spontaneous Brain Activity Predicts Future Landing Performance in Pilots


This study investigates brain activity that is parametrically related to behavioral performance. Fifteen pilots participated in this experiment. The task was to land the glider on a red X either to the left or right as directed. There was also a baseline condition where the subject rested looking straight and did not move. Glider landing performance was assessed by the distance to the red X. During the glider landing task brain activity in the premotor cortex, motor cortex, parietal cortex, visual cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia was found to predict behavioral performance. Further analysis of the spontaneous activity proceeding each trial revealed that a reduction in activity in premotor, prefrontal, parietal, and basal ganglia could predict future glider landing performance. It is hypothesized that this activity reflects attentional preparation in selecting appropriate action plans in the subsequent trial.

Experimental Conditons

Baseline (=) Fly to the Left (<) Fly to the Right (>)

Movie of Baseline Condition

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Movie of Fly Left Condition

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Movie of Fly Right Condition

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Performance Related Brain Activity During the Task

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Spontaneous Brain Activity During Rest Predicts Future Performance

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Important Findings

Brain activity in regions involved with action planning (Motor Cortex, Premotor Cortex, Inferior Frontal Gyrus, DLPFC, Parietal Cortex, and Basal Ganglia) is positively parametrically modulated with landing performance.

Spontaneous brain activity in action planning regions during the resting condition just prior to the piloting task is negatively parametrically related with future landing performance on the subsequent trial

This reduction of activity in brain regions involved with the task may be mediated by attentional modulation.

The ability to predict the ongoing and future outcome on complex tasks can be used to give feedback to modulate situational awareness and behavioral performance.