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Cognitive Neuroenhancement: Techniques and Technology

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Human Factors and Medicine

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attention, brain training, Cognitive enhancement, cognitive training, human enhancement, learning, memory, neurofeedback, physiological feedback, tACS, tDCS, TMS, transcranial alternating current stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation


As noted by General James N. Mattis, “war is a primarily human endeavor,” despite the dramatic increases in defense applications of automation throughout the world. Automation is simply a tool used to improve the chances of victory for the human operators rather than a direct replacement of human thought. Even if we are wildly successful in advancing computer derived artificially intelligent behavior, machine automation will never be able independently develop military Tactics, Techniques & Procedures (TTPs). While technological advances in weapons systems certainly can aid winning battles, wars are won through superior strategy and intuition that only human operators can provide. However, technological investment has historically focused on the machine rather than the human, which has resulted in a static potential for the human operator. Miller’s (1956) theory on the limits of working memory, for example, remains a valid argument for why the human is often the “weakest link” in the weapons system. Human capabilities are further reduced by stressors present in the operational environment. Traditional methods to counteract these performance declines have included solutions such as altering the user’s displays, pharmaceutical interventions, and increasing the level of automation.


Collate and examine the state-of-the-art research, techniques, and technologies in cognitive neuroenhancement. Report on recent research and development efforts, lessons learned, strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and best practices among the NATO participants.


The major technical topics of the activity include 1) the techniques and strategies for cognitive neuroenhancement (i.e. cognitive training, cognitive or neurofeedback, and non-invasive brain stimulation) , 2) the physiological mechanisms of cognitive interventions/strategies, 3) current cognitive neuroenhancement technology in NATO, 4) recent developments in cognitive neuroenhancement research, technology, and training techniques, 5) ethics of cognitive neuroenhancement, and 6) explore capabilities of NATO research facilities.

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