Neural and biomechanical tradeoffs associated with human-exoskeleton interactions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Industrial passive low-back exoskeletons have gained recent attention as ergonomic interventions to manual handling tasks. This research utilized a two-armed experimental approach (single vs dual-task paradigms) to quantify neural and biomechanical tradeoffs associated with short-term human-exoskeleton interaction (HEI) during asymmetrical lifting in twelve healthy adults balanced by gender. A dynamic, electromyography-assisted spine model was employed that indicated statistical, but marginal, biomechanical benefits of the tested exoskeleton, which diminished with the introduction of the cognitive dual-task. Using Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)-based brain connectivity analyses, we found that the tested exoskeleton imposed greater neurocognitive and motor adaptation efforts by engaging action monitoring and error processing brain networks. Collectively, these findings indicate that a wearer's biomechanical response to increased cognitive demands in the workplace may offset the mechanical advantages of exoskeletons. We also demonstrate the utility of ambulatory fNIRS to capture the neural cost of HEI without the need for elaborate dual-task manipulations.

published proceedings

  • Appl Ergon

altmetric score

  • 139.714

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhu, Y., Weston, E. B., Mehta, R. K., & Marras, W. S.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Zhu, Yibo||Weston, Eric B||Mehta, Ranjana K||Marras, William S

publication date

  • October 2021