Joost Zijlstra

Alumni of the Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action
Alumni of the Group Motion Perception and Simulation


Intern at the Motion Perception and Simulation Research Group

Supervisors: Dr. K. de Winkel, Dr. R.H.J. van der Lubbe & Dr. Eng. W. Verwey

I am currently doing research on the use of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in a moving environment. This will be the subject of both a paper and my Master's thesis.

In 2015 I finished my Bachelor's in pscyhology and decided to focus my efforts towards getting a Master's degree in Human Factors and Engineering in Psychology at the University of Twente, The Netherlands. As I am interested in doing research and wanted to expand my horizon, I felt an intership here at the Max Planck Institute in Germany would offer the perfect place for me to earn my degree.

Using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy to measure Mental Workload in a moving Helicopter Simulation

High mental demands can have detrimental effects on operator performance. It can result in human error, which negatively affects performance and may in turn result in large losses when human lives or expensive technology are at stake (Durantin, Gagnon, Tremblay & Dehais, 2014) Consequently, an accurate assessment of mental workload can help to predict performance decline associated with work overload or understimulation, thereby preventing operator error and allowing for pertinent intervention (Ayaz et al., 2012; Hirshfield et al., 2009).

NIRS shows promise as a minimally invasive and mobile technique to measure workload in real time (Izzetoglu, Bunce, Izzetoglu, Onaral, Pourrezaei, 2007). Unfortunately research has not yet focussed much on testing the equipment under conditions with subject that is moved around, which is the case in helicopters or motion simulators. Using the CyberMotion Simulator of Max Planck in combination with a NIRSport Model 88 mobile imaging system I will try and do just that.


  1. Ayaz, H., Shewokis, P.A., Bunce, S., Izzetoglu, K., Willems, B. & Onaral, B. (2012). Optical brain monitoring for operator training and mental workload assessment. Neuroimage, 59(1), 36-47.
  2. Durantin, G., Gagnon, J.F., Tremblay, S. & Dehais, F. (2014). Using near infrared spectroscopy and heart rate variability to detect mental overload. Behavioural brain research, 259, 16-23.
  3. Hirshfield, L.M., Solovey, E.T., Girouard, A., Kebinger, J., Jacob, R.J., Sassaroli, A. & Fantini, S. (2009, April). Brain measurement for usability testing and adaptive interfaces: an example of uncovering syntactic workload with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2185-2194). ACM.
  4. Izzetoglu, M., Bunce, S.C., Izzetoglu, K., Onaral, B. & Pourrezaei, K. (2007). Functional brain imaging using near-infrared technology. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biologoy Magazine, 26(4), 38.
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