In this study, we investigate the effectiveness of binaural beats stimulation (BBs) in enhancing cognitive vigilance and mitigating mental stress level at the workplace. We developed an experimental protocol under four cognitive conditions: high vigilance (HV), vigilance enhancement (VE), mental stress (MS) and stress mitigation (SM). The VE and SM conditions were achieved by listening to 16 Hz of BBs. We assessed the four cognitive conditions using salivary alpha-amylase, behavioral responses, and Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). We quantified the vigilance and stress levels using the reaction time (RT) to stimuli, accuracy of detection, and the functional connectivity metrics of the fNIRS estimated by Phase Locking Values (PLV). We propose using the orthogonal minimum spanning tree (OMST) to determine the true connectivity network patterns of the PLV. Our results show that listening to 16-Hz BBs has significantly reduced the level of alpha amylase by 44%, reduced the RT to stimuli by 20% and increased the accuracy of target detection by 25%, (p < 0.001). The analysis of the connectivity network across the four different cognitive conditions revealed several statistically significant trends. Specifically, a significant increase in connectivity between the right and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) areas and left orbitofrontal cortex was found during the vigilance enhancement condition compared to the high vigilance. Likewise, similar patterns were found between the right and left DLPFC, orbitofrontal cortex, right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and right frontopolar PFC (prefrontal cortex) area during stress mitigation compared to mental stress. Furthermore, the connectivity network under stress condition alone showed significant connectivity increase between the VLPFC and DLPFC compared to other areas. The laterality index demonstrated left frontal laterality under high vigilance and VE conditions, and right DLPFC and left frontopolar PFC while under mental stress. Overall, our results showed that BBs can be used for vigilance enhancement and stress mitigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics