Foundations of Augmented Cognition

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Future military special operator selection and education programs will take advantage of state-of-the-art neuroimaging and normative statistical tools in the creation of a customized database of EEG patterns gathered from top performing specialists over their careers. Such a quantitative EEG Normative Database (qEND) will function as the benchmark for screening, assessment, selection and even training of targeted individuals required to work effectively as operators under extreme stresses and for extended periods. This assumption implies that an improved warfighter selection and training pedagogy will embrace the concept of a "model" brain activity pattern (BAP) that represents a warfighter at peak potential and in a highly focused and resilient state of mind. It also implies that this model BAP can be used to: 1) identify biomarkers of positive traits in candidates for specialized training programs, and 2) reduce stress and improve sleep and training performance of program selectees using guided EEG neurofeedback to maintain an optimal BAP. One such statistical qEND (NeuroGuide) is used clinically in the assessment and diagnosis of EEG imbalances specifically related to neurological and behavioral disorders, as well as for guiding individual brain pattern changes through the use of neurofeedback training (NT). To evaluate qEEG for monitoring an individual's BAP changes and potentially improving mood and work performance, two military specialists with leadership experience underwent a program of pre- and post-EEG recordings and 20 neurofeedback training (NT) sessions. Here, the NeuroGuide database was used to determine how each participant's BAP differed from the age-matched group norms, and it was also used during the NT process to inform the software of the differences from the norms at each of the 4 training sites used to adjust the trainees EEG towards the direction of "normal". Changes from the NT program were assessed pre- and post-intervention using seven neuropsychological assessments of mood, anxiety, sleep, work performance and life satisfaction. In addition, one subject had a series of blood draws taken over the course of the NT program to evaluate changes in his plasma Cortisol; a reliable biomarker of stress level. Both subjects reported reduced levels of anxiety, impulsivity and anger, and improved mood and life satisfaction after the 20-session NT intervention. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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