Efficacy of a Single-Task ERP Measure to Evaluate Cognitive Workload During a Novel Exergame
This study aimed to validate the efficacy of single-task event-related potential (ERP) measures of cognitive workload to be implemented in exergame-based rehabilitation. Twenty-four healthy participants took part in a novel gamified balance task where task-irrelevant auditory tones were presented in the background to generate ERPs in the participants’ electroencephalogram (EEG) as a measure of cognitive workload. For the balance task, a computer-based tilt-ball game was combined with a balance board. Participants played the game by shifting their weight to tilt the balance board, which moved a virtual ball to score goals. The game was manipulated by adjusting the size of the goalposts to set three predefined levels of game difficulty (easy, medium, and hard). The participant’s experience of game difficulty was evaluated based on the number of goals scored and their subjective reporting of perceived difficulty. Participants experienced a significant difference in the three levels of task difficulty based on the number of goals scored and perceived difficulty (p < 0.001). Post hoc analysis revealed the lowest performance for the hardest level. The mean amplitude of the N1 ERP component was used to measure the cognitive workload associated with the three difficulty levels. The N1 component’s amplitude decreased significantly (p < 0.001), with an increase in the task difficulty. Moreover, the amplitude of the N1 component for the hard level was significantly smaller compared to medium (p = 0.0003) and easy (p < 0.001) levels. These results support the efficacy of the N1 ERP component to measure cognitive workload in dynamic and real-life scenarios such as exergames and other rehabilitation exercises.