EEG is in the Air


“I’m looking up because that is where I want to be” Anonymous … most likely an aviator.


Brain imaging techniques are usually cumbersome and require to be used in controlled lab environments to avoid the well known artefacts. That is why, as a neuroscientist, I have always been amazed with brain imaging techniques that allow you to actually record brain information in out-of-the-lab conditions. Indeed here is where we get the most interesting information from our brains…in real conditions.

Enobio and Starstim have been proven ideal for these applications. EEG has been recorded while skiing, in zero gravity flights and in Mars simulated conditions and even at the Burning Man!

As a neuroscientist and amateur pilot, I could not resist to combine those two passions of mine and perform a little experiment.

With an Enobio 8 channel system, with dry electrodes, I conducted a flight in California with a 4 seater Piper Archer II. I was the Pilot in Command and I had a friend acting as First Officer helping me out with the set-up.

At first I was a little worried with both the movements artefacts and the potential radio interference. Allow me to quickly comment on this.

Movements Artefacts

Because the propellers in an airplane can spin up to 3000 RPM, vibrations are expected. Besides, an airplane can move in 3 dimensions, so positive and negatives G are also expected. Finally, depending on the weather, turbulences can also be expected. Those factors will generate artefacts in the EEG signals. But I was really impressed on the quality of the EEG signal in our recording. The neoprene cap and the dry electrodes proved really powerful in this sense.

Radio Interference 

Airplanes are equipped with several radio based systems. Some of those include the radios (usually 2), VOR receivers for Instrumental flight, GPS, Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), etc… All those systems are potential sources of interference in the EEG signals. And considering that Enobio is wireless, I had even more reasons to be worried. But the electronics of Enobio proved to be very robust and the EEG quality was really good.

The EEG recording quality and some pictures of the set-up can be seen along the post.

Very happy to  share with you this successful experiment which actually opens the door to many applications such as security and workload monitoring for pilots. As we know, with EEG we can extract information about the state of a subject (sleepy, stressed, etc… ) and also about the identity of the subject. Who knows…maybe in the future all pilots will be equipped with a EEG system to increase even more flight security. Thanks for reading, happy travels and until next time!

This entry was posted in EEG.

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