Health, Science & Technology

Prognosticating Work Productivity, Stress Level and Workload Capacity through fNIRS Brain Haemodynamic Signal Measurement

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Prognosticating Workload, Stress, and Capacity through Neuroimaging
Feng Ying Xing is a PhD candidate at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) Centre for Intelligent Signal and Imaging Research (CISIR), a national Higher Centre of Excellence (HiCoE). He received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Bradford, UK and later earned his MSc in the same programme at UTP.
He became the first Malaysian student to work on functional Near-Infrared-Spectroscopy (fNIRS), a noninvasive optical brain-imaging modality that measures the changes in hemoglobin concentration, and has served as a teaching assistant from 2014 – 2017. In recognition of his outstanding leadership and achievements in academia, he was awarded the Yayasan UTP Prestigious Scholarship for his postgraduate studies and Best MSc Thesis by IEEE Signal Processing Society Malaysia in 2016.
Towards a future where stress can be better managed
Currently, Feng’s research is focused on establishing biomarkers to differentiate the nature of mental stress in healthy individuals. As one of the recipients for this year’s Merdeka Award Grants for International Attachment, Feng is looking to venture into the field of deep learning for early detection of mental stress through fNIRS, as an early preventive measure for mental illnesses.
Feng likens his research to the Disney Film, Big Hero, where the Baymax was equipped with a unique chip containing a predictive emotive model, enabling it to provide a soothing, caring presence with an endearing personality to individuals facing stress.
“Stress, as an emotion, can either enhance or hinder our cognitive ability – yet little is known about their causal relationship. Some people thrive in it, others crumble.” explains Feng. Despite there being ample literature in the field of psychology, cognitive brain sciences and neurotechnology, there lacks interdisciplinary studies piecing them together, especially amongst the Asian population.
An attachment that came with valuable life lessons
Through his 4-month attachment with the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), U.S.A. Feng had worked under the guidance of Dr. Satrajit Ghosh, an assistant professor from Harvard Medical School and a Principal Research Scientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Feng received valuable feedback on his research and delved into machine learning algorithms to uncover hidden patterns within his complex dataset. The dataset includes behavioural performance, brain hemodynamic data, physiological signals, and subjective surveys.
The experience taught Feng crucial lessons, emphasising the importance of researchers sharing knowledge for scientific progress, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and recognising the significance of aspects beyond academic knowledge and career growth.
After completing his PhD, Feng aspires to further explore applications of Neurotechnology with AI, focusing on enhancing human cognition and emotional resilience in today's fast-paced society. This is especially important after facing a global pandemic and how understanding pressure at work or home makes a world of difference. Feng is  only scratching the surface and with more work being done, he hopes to unfold greater discoveries in the future. 
The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.

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