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Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications
FIGURE 7-1 Various noninvasive imaging technologies provide insight into the brain (anatomy) and mind (function). The spatial resolution of a given technology defines the largest and smallest brain structures that can be observed, while the temporal resolution defines the elements of mind function to be measured. Academic and commercial research is primarily geared to improving resolution, although important measurements for the prediction of behavior can be made at any point in the brain-mind plane. Shown are several of the technologies discussed in Chapter 7. SOURCE: Adapted from Genik et al., 2005.
from the brain and nervous system, inferring neural states from physiological information, or designing control strategies to alter or enhance neural states. Nevertheless, the committee recognizes that critical ergonomic considerations limit the added burden—particularly added weight—that neuroscience technologies can place on an already overloaded soldier. Mission-enabling technologies (including devices for sensing, power, and onboard computating) must be considered as part of the larger system of a dismounted soldier’s equipment load, and they should not add appreciable weight or volume to the helmet or backpack. A National Research Council study determined that any new device(s) should not add more than 1 kg to the helmet or 2 kg to the pack. More important, any helmet-mounted neuroscience technology should not interfere with ballistic protection, helmet stability, or freedom of head movement (NRC, 1997). The committee believes that these design and engineering constraints must be considered from the outset to ensure successful integration of a neuroscience technology with the soldier’s existing equipment load.
The Army has a basic requirement to process, distribute, and apply information efficiently. These requirements will only increase with the demands of a network-centric environment. Better cognitive performance must be achieved if soldiers are to contend with an ever-increasing river of information. Solutions are needed to address demonstrated operational requirements, such as avoidance of information overload and successful synthesis of information that selectively highlights the mission-critical features from multiple sources. The technologies described in this section apply knowledge and techniques from neuroscience to help solve these and related challenges in sustaining and improving soldier performance.
Mission-enabling (deployable) instruments or technologies of interest to the Army must be capable of being scientifically validated and include brain–machine interface (BMI) technologies, remote physiological monitoring to extend performance in combat, and optimization of sensor-shooter responses under cognitive stress. BMI technology examples include near-term extensions of current train-