forming high-cost, high-value Army assignments do not have neuropsychological, psychophysiological, neurochemical, or neurogenetic components. As a first step toward using insights from these and other neuroscience-related fields, results from relatively simple neuropsychological testing could be empirically tested to seek correlations with successful performance in one or more of these high-cost, high value assignments. Those assignment-specific correlations could then be tested for predictive value with subsequent candidates in the same assignment.

Recommendation 2. The Army should investigate neuropsychological testing of candidates for a training course that is already established as a requirement to enter a high-value field. In this way the Army can determine whether an assignment-specific neuropsychological profile can be developed that has sufficiently high predictive value to use in conjunction with established criteria for the assignment. If results for this investigation are positive, the Army should investigate development of assignment-specific profiles for additional assignments.

Optimizing Decision Making

In the past few decades, the boundaries of the behavioral sciences have expanded to incorporate advances in our knowledge of psychology, neuroscience, and economics. These advances cross the hierarchical levels of neuroscience, offering powerful new tools for understanding and improving decision making.


Conclusion 3a. Human decision making is predictably inefficient and often suboptimal, especially when the decisions require assessments of risk and are made under pressure.

Conclusion 3b. Individuals differ in their approach to making decisions. For example, some individuals are more impulsive, while others are more deliberate and less tolerant of risk. These differences do not mean that risk-tolerant individuals are necessarily better or worse decision makers than risk-averse individuals. From an institutional (Army) point of view, different decision-making styles can suit different individuals for different tasks, and different tasks may even require or be better performed by individuals with different decision-making styles. Neuroscience tools are capable of discerning these differences in decision-making style. With enough research, these tools may become capable of discerning neural correlates for the differences.

Recommendation 3. The Army should expand its existing research in behavioral and social sciences to include neuroscience aimed at developing training and assessment tools for decision makers at all levels in the Army.

Sustaining Soldier Performance

The Army generally views the time frame of sustainment in terms of the duration of a single extended operation or action—typically up to 96 hours. In Chapter 5, the committee reviewed neuroscience applications related to understanding, monitoring, and preventing or treating deficits in soldier performance. These deficits may occur during a single extended operation, or, when they are associated with Army concepts such as individual soldier resiliency and unit-level recovery and reset, they can affect performance over longer time frames: weeks, months, and even years. The committee considered prevention interventions not only in the case of events occurring over a day or several days that may be risk factors for acute deficits noticeable immediately, but also in the case of events responsible for longer-term deficits, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other chronic central nervous system effects of brain trauma.

Individual Variability of Soldiers

In conventional Army operations, a central tenet is to emphasize a common level of operational readiness and performance across individuals as the basis for unit effectiveness rather than individual readiness and performance. Nevertheless, individual soldiers do vary not only in their baseline optimum performance—that is, performance not degraded by sustained stressors—but also in their response to stressors that, on average, cause less-than-optimal performance (performance deficits). In the case of high-value assignments that are very dependent on exceptionally high-performing individuals, such as assignments to Special Operations forces, the Army already acknowledges and takes advantage of individual variability to achieve its objectives.


Conclusion 4. An important lesson from neuroscience is that the ability to sustain and improve performance can be increased by identifying differences in individual soldiers and using individual variability to gauge optimum performance baselines, responses to performance-degrading stressors, and responses to countermeasures to such stressors.

Recommendation 4. To increase unit performance across the full spectrum of operations, the Army should expand its capacity to identify and make use of the individual variability of its soldiers. The Army should undertake R&D and review its training and doctrine to take best advantage of variations in the neural bases of behavior that contribute to performance. In particular, it should seek to understand—and use more widely—individual variability in (1) baseline optimal performance, (2) responses to stressors likely to degrade optimal performance, and (3) responses to countermeasures intended to overcome performance deficits or to interventions intended to enhance performance above an individual’s baseline.

Countermeasures to Environmental Stressors

The degradation of a soldier’s performance under sustained physical or mental stress is due to both peripheral



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