Neural and biomechanical tradeoffs associated with human-exoskeleton interactions

Publication Title
Applied Ergonomics
Publication/Creation Date
October 26 2021
Yibo Zhu (creator)
Eric Weston (creator)
Ranjana Mehta (creator)
William Marras (creator)
Texas A&M University (contributor)
Ohio State University (contributor)
Media Type
Journal Article
Persuasive Intent
Discursive Type

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.
HCI Platform
Relation to Body
Related Body Part
Leg, Spine Torso

Date archived
November 15 2021
Last edited
November 15 2021
How to cite this entry
Yibo Zhu, Eric Weston, Ranjana Mehta, William Marras. (October 26 2021). "Neural and biomechanical tradeoffs associated with human-exoskeleton interactions". Applied Ergonomics. Fabric of Digital Life.