fNIRS: The First Round


My name’s Maciej Grzegorz Zborowski, though you can call me Mac.  I’ve been asked to blog about my experiences with a fNIRS study going on here at Glenn Research Center and about other experiences at NASA. 

How cool is that?!

First a little about what I do here at NASA: 

I’m an Industrial Designer working here at Glenn (GRC) helping engineers conceptualize projects and programs.  

Now, lets talk fNIRS:

What’s fNIRS (pronounced “ef-nears”)?

  fNIRS stands for Functional Near – Infrared Spectroscopy.  Basically, its a way to see the relationship between oxygen levels and your body’s metabolism.

The goal here is to find a good way to gather data that will help keep pilots aware of while up in the cockpit environment.  Sounds easy, right?! 

The first calibration test was a few days ago and it was exciting and intense.  Angela Harrivel and Terri McKay work on the fNIRS study and they’ve been working on a helmet that holds probes in place against my head.  The probes emit laser light into my brain and detectors (that are also mounted on the helmet) gather the reflections.  Then, a software package records the readings and then Angela and Terri analyze. 

The first tests were basic:

  I was asked to relax.  This consisted of me thinking of floating on station (station = International Space Station).  Then, I was asked to touch my finger tips and my thumb using my dominant hand.  Try that for a minute, pretty cool.  Then, I was asked  to think of words that started with a given letter, ie. b = bravo, blog, brats, bingo, baloo, balloon / z = zebra, zinger, zipper, zap, etc. 

  All in all this calibration test went well.  Angela and Terri got a kind of baseline and now they can start testing using other subjects and introducing flying into the equation! 

How does flying fit in to these tests?  Check back later and I’ll tell you all about the pitch and roll seat we have in the lab!