Neurotechnology and operational medicine

Carey D. Balaban, PhD

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2011; 2:T45-54

Effective approaches to achieve and maintain situation awareness are a fundamental underpinning of effective management of operational medical or other assets in national security and homeland security. A neuroscience-based approach to achieving situation awareness is described and contrasted with the approach proposed originally by Endsley. This neurotechnology approach regards situation assessment as analogous to interoception. It is amenable to implementation by hybrid agent-based and continuous time simulation methods for decision support applications. Both developing and potential application areas for this approach in operational medicine, disaster response planning and cybersecurity are discussed. Finally, it is noted that a neurotechnology approach reproduces key features associated with humans showing positive adaptations to adverse events: (1) the recognition of and ability to operate under conditions of uncertainty, (2) the development of a sense of connected detachment (‘integration of affect and cognition’) and (3) the recognition and acceptance of human limitations. As a result, tools based upon this approach have the potential to inculcate the wisdom that lies at the heart of resilience in the face of adversity.

Key words: situation awareness, interoception, neuroscience, decision support, resilience, wisdom.