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Automated Non-Invasive Cognitive Load Assessment for Medical Training Effectiveness and Safety


OBJECTIVE: Effective team performance is critical during medical emergencies and combat trauma situations. The goal is to make medical team training exercises more useful to participants and more readily interpretable by instructors. The desired result is improved capability to measure -- automatically & noninvasively -- team performance, team dynamics, individual performance, individual cognitive load and team cognitive load balance. Improved medical team training assessment will likely result in more effective and efficient training, better performance and improved lifesaving capabilities. DESCRIPTION: The US Navy has successfully used noninvasive physiology data during submarine training simulations to assess individual performance, team function and team balance using technologies such as electroencephalogram (EEG), heart rate, galvanic skin response & other indicators. This topic seeks proposals that employ such an approach or similar approaches that support better instructor understanding of medical team training performance without increasing the task load on the instructors. Deliverables will include design and construction of a basic prototype, user testing, construction of an advanced prototype and a validation study approved by second-level DOD Institutional Review Boards (IRB). Approaches that integrate with current real time instructor evaluation systems are encouraged but not required. It is desired that the advanced training assessment system perform the following functions automatically and noninvasively: - Measure individual cognitive load ( & other factors) during simulations - Measure team cognitive load balance ( & other factors) during simulations - Identify team members exhibiting low workload and engagement - Obtain correlation data between noninvasive measurements (EEG, instructor evaluation, heart rate, etc) with vigilance, attention and performance tasks. - Accept input from instructors during the event to mark important events or performance - Provide automated interpretations and useful graphical outputs of assessment information Additionally, research should determine - The utility of this approach and specifics on what such a system can and cannot measure - Whether less engaged team members are less effective - Whether / how we identify team members who are struggling - How we distinguish a well integrated/performing team from a less effective one using these assessments - How assessment data correlates with the instructors"assessment - The best technologies for obtaining these measurements - Most effective ways this technology can be commercialized & #8195; PHASE I: Design and construct a basic team training assessment system prototype. Conduct informal user testing with a small number of Subject Matter Experts (SME) to internally validate approach and receive relevant feedback. No trials/studies requiring Institutional Review Board (IRB) during Phase I will be accepted. Design a well thought out research study (for phase II if invited to submit a Phase II proposal) to test your hypothesis. Report findings. A face-to-face review will be held around the 5th or 6th month at Fort Detrick, Maryland to present and demonstrate the proof of concept developed and results obtained to that point. Submitters should budget for that. PHASE II: Develop an advanced and functional medical team training assessment system prototype. Complete validation research study design. Submit research protocol to IRBs for approval. Perform validation study and publish results. Report findings. PHASE III: This capability is expected to result in a vision for, and described end-state of, a system with improved capability to measure -- automatically & noninvasively -- team performance, team dynamics, individual performance, individual cognitive load and team cognitive load balance. Capability could apply to military and civilian applications. It should identify one or more Phase III military applications or acquisitions programs and likely path(s) for transition from research to operational capability. It should identify EITHER (a) one or more potential commercial applications OR (b) one or more commercial technology(ies) that could be potentially inserted into defense systems as a result of this SBIR project. References: 1. Kohn, LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson, MS, eds. To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington DC: National Academy Press; 2000. 2. Berka, C., Levendowski, D.L., Lumicao, M.N., Yau, A., Davis, G.,Craven, P. (2007). EEG correlates of task engagement and mental workload in vigilance, learning, and memory tasks. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 78(5), Section II, B231-244. 3. Stevens, R., Galloway, T., Wang, P., Berka, C. (2012). Cognitive neurophysiologic synchronies: What can they contribute to the study of teamwork? Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society, 54(4), 489-502. DOI: 20.227720028720811427296. 4. Behneman, A., Berka, C., Stevens, R., Raphael, G. (2012). Neurotechnology to accelerate learning. IEEEE Pulse 6 February, 60-63.
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