Utilizing Electroencephalography Measurements for Comparison of Task-Specific Neural Efficiencies: Spatial Intelligence Tasks

Benjamin J. Call, Utah State University
Wade Goodridge, Utah State University
Idalis Villanueva, Utah State University
Nicholas Wan, Utah State University
Kerry Jordan, Utah State University


Spatial intelligence is often linked to success in engineering education and engineering professions. The use of electroencephalography enables comparative calculation of individuals' neural efficiency as they perform successive tasks requiring spatial ability to derive solutions Neural efficiency here is defined as having less beta activation, and therefore expending fewer neural resources, to perform a task in comparison to other groups or other tasks. For inter-task comparisons of tasks with similar durations, these measurements may enable a comparison of task type difficulty. For intra-participant and inter-participant comparisons, these measurements provide potential insight into the participant's level of spatial ability and different engineering problem solving tasks. Performance on the selected tasks can be analyzed and correlated with beta activities. This work presents a detailed research protocol studying the neural efficiency of students engaged in the solving of typical spatial ability and Statics problems. Students completed problems specific to the Mental Cutting Test (MCT), Purdue Spatial Visualization test of Rotations (PSVT:R), and Statics. While engaged in solving these problems, participants' brain waves were measured with EEG allowing data to be collected regarding alpha and beta brain wave activation and use. The work looks to correlate functional performance on pure spatial tasks with spatially intensive engineering tasks to identify the pathways to successful performance in engineering and the resulting improvements in engineering education that may follow.