Direct interfacing of computers with the human brain is one of the holy grails of computer science and has been in the computing folklore since the very beginning of computing history. The challenges researchers are facing are non-trivial and the breakthroughs are non-negligeable. Measuring the hardness of a mental task is a fundamental problem in design sciences. In this context, the relationship between electroencephalograms (EEG) signals and the design process is an area of research with applications to the understanding of the creative process and next generation CAD/E systems. Such systems are aiming at becoming more collaborative, conceptual, creative and cognitive. We posit that the relationship between EEG signals, cognitive states and the perceived hardness of design problems is non-trivial. Different problems typically have different levels of perceived hardness. To test this, we study the use of microstate analysis to the segmentation of videos of subjects submitted to creative tasks of various difficulty. Problems and subtasks of different perceived hardness can be shown to exhibit different levels of transient microstates, a measure we have defined on the complexity of the microstate segmentation. We show that the human brain seems to be using 1–20% of its transient microstate capacity.

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