Effect of force accuracy on hemodynamic response: an fNIRS study using fine visuomotor task

Zheng, Tian, Zhang, Wang (2021) Effect of force accuracy on hemodynamic response: an fNIRS study using fine visuomotor task J Neural Eng 18(5)


Objective. Despite converging neuroimaging studies investigating how neural activity is modulated by various motor related factors, such as movement velocity and force magnitude, little has been devoted to identifying the effect of force accuracy. This study thus aimed to investigate the effect of task difficulty on cortical neural responses when participants performed a visuomotor task with varying demands on force accuracy.Approach. Fourteen healthy adults performed a set of force generation operations with six levels of force accuracy. The participants held a pen-shaped tool and moved the tool along a planar ring path, meanwhile producing a constant force against the plane under visual guidance. The required force accuracy was modulated by allowable tolerance of the force during the task execution. We employed functional near-infrared spectroscopy to record signals from bilateral prefrontal, sensorimotor and occipital areas, used the hemoglobin concentration as indicators of cortical activation, then calculated the effective connectivity across these regions by Granger causality.Main results.We observed overall stronger activation (oxy-hemoglobin concentration,p= 0.015) and connectivity (p< 0.05) associated with the initial increase in force accuracy, and the diminished trend in activation and connectivity when participants were exposed to excessive demands on accurate force generation. These findings suggested that the increasing task difficulty would be only beneficial for the mental investment up to a certain point, and above that point neural responses would show patterns of lower activation and connections, revealing mental overload at excessive task demands.Significance.Our results provide the first evidence for the inverted U-shaped effect of force accuracy on hemodynamic responses during fine visuomotor tasks. The insights obtained through this study also highlight the essential role of inter-region connectivity alterations for coping with task difficulty, enhance our understanding of the underlying motor neural processes, and provide the groundwork for developing adaptive neurorehabilitation strategies.© 2021 IOP Publishing Ltd.



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