Mugridge, Norris, and Weisbuch, 2004) and nonmetabolically demanding tasks (Seery, Weisbuch-Remington, Hetenyi, Moore, and Blascovich, 2005). Generally, performance is superior when individuals are challenged rather than threatened, although threat does appear to increase performance on vigilance tasks (Hunter, 2001). Moreover, the threat pattern of cardiovascular responses is indicative of pathophysiological mechanisms leading to hypertension or cardiovascular disease or both (see Manuck, Kamarck, Kasprowicz, and Waldstein, 1993).
Research directed toward neurophysiologically assessing challenge or threat before and during performance training could use the measurement of individual differences to provide an important tool for personnel selection and training, both for leadership and other tasks. Furthermore, research on the plethora of external (i.e., nontask-specific) factors that probably influence challenge or threat motivation can help in the design of training programs themselves. Finally, the monitoring of individuals’ challenge or threat physiological states while in the field can provide important on-line information for commanders, including not only motivational state and performance, but also indicators of acute cardiovascular pathology.
The above is but one example of the potential utility of behavioral neurophysiological methods. However, the principles embodied in the example (i.e., established theoretical framework; validated neurophysiological markers of theoretical constructs; the covert, continuous, and on-line nature of these markers; and their applicability in terms of prediction of performance) are ones that can be applied to behavioral neurophysiological approaches to many important military tasks and problems.