Statement of Task
The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) (ASAALT) has requested the NRC BAST to conduct a study of neuroscience in terms of its potential to support military applications. The study will address what neuroscience can be expected to do as well as what neuroscience advances could do if provided appropriate direction and investment. Given the fact that the field of neuroscience is very extensive and there are many other investments underway in numerous areas and sub-areas, this study will focus on those areas that have high-payoff potential for the Army where it is unlikely that others will devote substantial resources to research and exploitation in these areas for Army benefit. The study will also suggest opportunities for leveraging specific investments where appropriate for the Army. Specifically, the study will
The NRC appointed the Committee on Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications to carry out the study. Special care was devoted to the composition of the committee. Some members had backgrounds in the traditional facets of neuroscience such as psychology and cognitive science and in neurology, including neuronal stimulation, neuropharmacology, imaging techniques, and human–computer interfaces (traditional ergonomics); others had expertise in newer and emerging subdisciplines and cross-disciplinary fields such as neuroimmunology, neuroeconomics, neuroergonomics, augmented reality, and computational neuroscience. Members were also selected on the basis of their experience in research and development (R&D), military operations, and medicine, and in training specialties such as memory and learning, assessment, decision making, prediction, and reading intentionality. Short biographies for the members are given in Appendix A.
Initially the committee was divided into data-gathering teams based on the Army’s own perception of neuroscience requirements. The teams determined sources of outside expertise that would be helpful to the committee’s study and reviewed recent publications on neuroscience topics, including two recent NRC studies for DOD sponsors (NRC, 2008a, 2008b). The streams of data-gathering activity were brought together midway though the committee’s deliberations when the first full-message draft was being written. A consensus was reached on pertinent findings to be contained in the report, and the committee was reconstituted into writing teams to draft the findings. The committee’s conclusions and recommendations were refined and ratified at the final meeting. All of the meetings and data-gathering activities are documented in Appendix B.