Personnel Monitoring for Assessment and Management of Cognitive Workload
Department of Defense
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
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AbstractThe objective of the proposed research is to use non-invasive physiological monitoring to aid in managing the workload of military personnel in a multi-task or high stress environment. Numerous physiological sensors are currently available for monitoringphysiological parameters such as electrical activity in the brain, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, vascular blood volume, and skin conductance, all of which can be used to evaluate stress and cognitive workload. We propose to develop a conceptualarchitecture for a user centered physio-cognitive monitor, then determine the feasibility of a Physiological Assessment Monitor (PAM), which integrates a variety of non-invasive physiological and mechanical sensor systems. The PAM will be used to identifyelevated stress levels and cognitive overload experienced during completion of various tasks. The PAM will be unobtrusive, so as not to interfere with task performance, and will be applicable in a variety of operational settings. A common task batterywill be used to induce stress and workload elevation as physiological data is assessed. By identifying excessive stress and cognitive overload experienced during task performance, it becomes possible to predict, and therefore prevent, overloading ofmilitary personnel. In complex military and civilian environments where increased demand is placed on individuals and teams to achieve more, systems that can evaluate cognitive workload and stress levels could fill the need for an objective assessor offitness for duty. Assessing the levels of stress and cognitive workload of numerous personnel allows for work to be delegated efficiently to those operators who are the most physically and mentally equipped to carry out a given mission or responsibility.Potential natural dual-use applications for a robust and reliable personnel assessment tool include use by commercial pilots/aviators, fire/rescue personnel, police, and others operating in high stress environments. Additional dual-use applications forthis technology include use by pharmaceutical companies to assess the efficacy of stress related drugs, and use as an early detection platform for diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease.
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