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Neurocognitive Monitors: Toward the Prevention of Cognitive Performance Decrements and Catastrophic Failures in the Operational Environment

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Thomas ML, Russo MB. Neurocognitive monitors: toward the prevention of cognitive performance decrements and catastrophic failures in the operational environment. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:(5, Suppl.):B144–B152.

Network-centric doctrine and the proposed C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) distributions to the individual warfighter require that the cognitive performance, judgment, and decision making of warfighters must be sustained and effectively managed in the forward operating environment, where various physiological and psychological stressors abound, in order to reduce human errors and catastrophic failures. The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) established the Cognitive Performance, Judgment, and Decision-Making Research Program (CPJDRP) in 2004 to direct research to this issue. A Neurophysiological Measures and Cognition Focus Team (NMFCT) was formed to work with augmented cognition investigators and to specifically address the development of neurophysiological measures as potential monitors of alertness-cognitive state in warfighters. The USAMRMC approach complemented the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Augmented Cognition approach, which focused on the detection of workload-related impaired cognitive state, and subsequent modification of information flow through automation. In this preface, the premise for neurophysiological measures as neurocognitive monitors is explained using an example of a neurophysiological index: the oculomotor measure, saccadic velocity. The progress of the NMFCT on the development of a neurocognitive monitor is described, as well as the recommendations of a 2005 USAMRMC/Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)-sponsored workshop. Awareness of neurocognitive monitoring is discussed, as are future endeavors related to operational testing and fieldability. Four papers are summarized in this Neurophysiological Monitoring and Augmented Cognition section involving technologies to enhance cognitive performance in the operational environment: one on dynamic cortical electroencephalography, two on oculometrics, and one on a spatial orientation enhancement system.
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Keywords: alertness; augmented cognition; electroencephalography; neurophysiological monitoring; oculometrics; spatial disorientation; thalamus

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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