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Analysis of Design Activities Using EEG Signals

[+] Author Affiliations
Thanh An Nguyen, Yong Zeng

Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Paper No. DETC2010-28477, pp. 277-286; 10 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 22nd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Special Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4413-7 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


It plays a significant role in developing of design theory and methodology to understand designer’s thinking and cognitive process during design activities. The most dominant method to conduct this kind of study is protocol analysis. However, this method is prone to subjective factors. Therefore, other approaches are emerging, which can measure the brain activities directly. With the advances in technologies, brain scanner and brain recorder systems such as EEG, fMRI, PET have become more affordable. In the present research, we used EEG to record designer’s brain electrical signals when s/he was working on a design task. Six channels of the EEG signals were recorded, including Fp1, Fp2, Fz, Cz, Pz, Oz, based on which the power spectral density for each EEG band (delta, theta, alpha and beta) was calculated. The results showed that, for the given design problem, the subject spent more effort in visual thinking during the solution generation than that in solution evaluation. The preliminary success in identifying regularity underlying a single designer’s design process through EEG signals lays a foundation for further investigation of designers’ general mental efforts during the conceptual design process.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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