Human Capability Enhancement

Is a basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development effort, which aims to discover, innovate, and develop technologies that directly and indirectly enhance human perceptual, cognitive, physical, and social capabilities rang­ing from individuals and teams to organizations and societies for the Army. Innovations in this area are expected to generate equipment and technologies that will provide unprecedented capabilities for future warfighters and enable future leaders to make sound decisions effectively in complex socio-cultural contexts.

Enhancing Human Capabilities

Augmentation

Improving Neural Enhancement by Combining Stimulation and Network Analysis

Recent research has indicated the promise of utilizing real-time measurement of physiological activity in feedback studies to improve performance. Participants are shown their ongoing physiological activity, and they develop internal strategies to modulate their physiology based on volitional control. In our research, we investigate alternative approaches for the physiologic target of the feedback process.

In one component of our research, we capitalize on our recent results that identified control points of networks (Gu et al., 2015, Nature Comunications, 6, 8414), and instead of targeting the most predictive physiological connection directly, we can target the boundary control points (based on underlying network topology of the system) that exert disproportionate influence over system function. In this way, we gain a degree of control and precision to steer the brain into states associated with better performance. The activity level of boundary control nodes can also serve as feedback, and the subjects will learn to vary the regional activity level of the boundary control nodes and, as a result, modulate their functional connectivity.

In another component, we extend our previous research that has demonstrated how stimulation can be used to identify differential global brain network changes if the stimulated local area is highly interconnected across different brain networks (Garcia et al., 2011, Journal of Neurophysiology, 106(4), 1734-46). Here, we stimulate a variety of different brain areas in order to map the networks that are most flexible or inflexible to external perturbation. By mapping the cascade of neural activity following stimulation, we may also gain access to the naturally occurring networks that may be associated with particular functions (e.g., task performance).

Collaborators are desired on either of these ongoing approaches or brainstorming additional methodological innovations that can be used with stimulation to augment human performance. This research supports ARL’s ERA in Accelerated Learning for a Ready and Responsive Force.

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Javi Garcia, javier.o.garcia.civ@mail.mil, (410) 278-8949