Box 1-1

Statement of Task

In an effort to better understand, and therefore forecast, the international neurophysiological and cognitive/neural science research landscape and its potential to affect U.S. future national security, an ad hoc NRC study committee will:

  • Review the current state of today's work in neurophysiology and cognitive/ neural science, select the manners in which this work could be of interest to national security professionals, and trends for future warfighting applications that may warrant continued analysis and tracking by the intelligence community,

  • Use the technology warning methodology developed in the 2005 National Research Council report Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances (NRC, 2005) to assess the health, rate of development, and degree of innovation in the neurophysiology and cognitive/neural science research areas of interest, and

  • Amplify the technology warning methodology to illustrate the ways in which neurophysiological and cognitive/neural research conducted in selected countries may affect committee assessments.

Advances in neurophysiological research could lead to asymmetric advantages in detecting psychological states, including deception, and the pharmaceutical enhancement or degradation of individual and group performance, as well as the development of human-machine interfaces, any or all of which could give an individual a performance edge.

Military and intelligence planners are uncertain about the likely scale, scope, and timing of advances in neurophysiological research and technologies that might affect future U.S warfighting capabilities. For good or for ill, an ability to better understand the capabilities of the body and brain will require new research that could be exploited for gathering intelligence, military operations, information management, public safety, and forensics.

In developing a framework for assessing the applicable trends in physiological research, this study focuses on how such a framework might be used by IC analysts tasked to predict the behaviors of individuals and groups, including evaluation of the kinds of data available to them. The principal goal of the methodology used in this study was to permit IC analysts to objectively evaluate whether an institution, region, or country merits further investigation and, where possible, to specify the cognitive-behavioral and neuroscience discipline(s) involved. Committee members were selected who would be familiar in general terms with the global cognitive-behavioral research landscape and be knowledgeable about the

refer to processes that take place in systems such as the central nervous system (i.e., the brain and the spinal cord), and the somatic, autonomic, and neuroendocrine systems.

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