Methodological Approaches and Recommendations for Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Applications in HF/E Research. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to systematically document current methods and protocols employed when using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) techniques in human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) research and generate recommendations for conducting and reporting fNIRS findings in HF/E applications. METHOD: A total of 1,687 articles were identified through Ovid-MEDLINE, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases, of which 37 articles were included in the review based on review inclusion/exclusion criteria. RESULTS: A majority of the HF/E fNIRS investigations were found in transportation, both ground and aviation, and in assessing cognitive (e.g., workload, working memory) over physical constructs. There were large variations pertaining to data cleaning, processing, and analysis approaches across the studies that warrant standardization of methodological approaches. The review identified major challenges in transparency and reporting of important fNIRS data collection and analyses specifications that diminishes study replicability, introduces potential biases, and increases likelihood of inaccurate results. As such, results reported in existing fNIRS studies need to be cautiously approached. CONCLUSION: To improve the quality of fNIRS investigations and/or to facilitate its adoption and integration in different HF/E applications, such as occupational ergonomics and rehabilitation, recommendations for fNIRS data collection, processing, analysis, and reporting are provided.

published proceedings

  • Hum Factors

altmetric score

  • 0.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhu, Y., Rodriguez-Paras, C., Rhee, J., & Mehta, R. K.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Zhu, Yibo||Rodriguez-Paras, Carolina||Rhee, Joohyun||Mehta, Ranjana K

publication date

  • June 2020