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Operational Processes and Cognitive Mapping

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Fiedler ER. Operational processes and cognitive mapping. Aviat Space Environ Med 2005; 76(7, Suppl.):C4–6.

Military operations involve human cognition at every level, from the front line soldier making life and death decisions on the battlefield, to the rear echelon making logistical and tactical decisions affecting divisions and armies. This section focuses on the performance of individuals and teams in the midst of extreme, hazardous environments—times and places when cognitive processes are most likely to be highly challenged and compromised. While active military operations do not lend themselves to the rigor of science, surrogate environments can simulate actual operational environments and allow mapping of military battle-relevant operational processes to research laboratory and analogue paradigms. Several current laboratory, analogue, and modeling endeavors are mentioned. Sleep-related fatigue and cognitive decrements have been studied extensively and countermeasures are showing promise in preventing and restoring cognitive declines. Future deliverables should include a prediction of an individual’s overall cognitive performance state based on that person’s individual baseline, the use of operationally robust metrics that can accompany the individual into extreme environments without adding an extra burden, and the provision of feedback to the operator as well as to decision-makers who make battlefield decisions. The area of intra- and inter-team cognition has direct relevance to military units working in complex, hazardous environments, and future research must include this larger, more complex concept of cognition in the development of risk mitigation aids. Papers in this section present the effects of combat-like stress on cognitive performance and mood of special operations personnel during rigorous training exercises, and the extent of psychiatric casualties as the reason for medical evacuations during recent combat operations.
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Keywords: cognitive performance; cognitive performance assessment; modeling; operations; simulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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