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Opportunity at Davies Teaching Fellowships (ARL/USMA)

Cognitive Readiness in Military Operations


MD and FL-Human Research & Engineering Dir-FFP, Human Research and Engineering Directorate - FFP

RO# Location
AA.27.01.B6410 Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 210055425


Name E-mail Phone
Headley, Donald B 410.278.5919


The Cognitive Sciences Branch of the Human Research and Engineering Directorate focuses on critical decision-making challenges on the battlefield that arise from factors influencing the cognitive functioning of individuals and teams. We conduct research on decision making and task performance under conditions of high workload, time pressure, information or situational uncertainty, and other stressors. The goal is to develop cognitive assessment techniques, decision aids, and mitigation strategies to improve performance under these conditions. Cognitive readiness is defined as the optimization and enhancement of human cognitive performance. In this enhanced state of mental acuity, we are able to meet the expected and unexpected cognitive demands of a situation. The team uses validated and field-practical multidimensional assessment tools to quantify and understand how one’s cognitive beliefs and information processing capabilities influence task performance. Another facet of cognitive readiness is the combination of automated batteries with subjective measures to predict and assess the Soldier’s cognitive fitness for duty.

A research area of specific interest is the study of improving distributed collaboration and decision making in complex network-enabled operations using cognitive science, computer science, and social network innovations. The focus would be laboratory-based studies to better understand how the use of networked assets affects communication flow, information transfer, cognitive workload, situational awareness, and the ability to perform effective mission command and small team operations. By getting a grasp on what aspects of network operations cause an undue cognitive burden to commanders and dismounted Soldiers who must rapidly and efficiently process and manage information from sources at multiple levels such as radios, text messages, emails, sensors, and ground and air robots, we can help shape proper use and reliance on networked information technology.

In addition to correlating cognitive and psychological assessment data with task performance, we also collect physiological data. Some of our current capabilities for physiological measures include electroencephalogram, salivary amylase, heart rate, and eye movements. Our research is conducted in a state-of-the-art facility that includes isolated test chambers, an immersive virtual simulator, a robotics lab, and a simulated command and control center; thus there is the potential for a wide variety of research topics within the broad area of cognitive readiness.

Understanding the cognitive demands facing individual soldiers and teams on the information-rich battlefield will allow optimized cognitive readiness and task performance through enhanced human-system design requirements, incorporation of assessment metrics and decision aids into system designs, and more accurate representations of human behavior in models and simulations.


Cognitive readiness; Assessment; Decision making; Information processing; Performance; Stress; Uncertainty;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants
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