Augmented Training by Monitoring, Extracting, and Decoding Indicators of Cognitive Load (MEDIC)

The Situation

US military medical personnel may be deployed to operational environments where their success in saving lives depends on their ability to act quickly and effectively, both as individuals and as teams. Therefore, effective training must go beyond individual skills to include interactions among team members, and how those interactions transfer to operational environments. Currently, trainers must infer competence by observation alone—a challenging task.

The Charles River Analytics Solution

Scientists and software engineers at Charles River Analytics have created a system to assist trainers by automatically sensing indicators of cognitive workload to augment performance observations, offering insight into factors underlying that performance. We have completed the initial design and testing of MEDIC on a two-person team. We designed a multimodal suite of unobtrusive, field-ready neurophysiological, physiological, and behavioral sensors. This includes a device to be mounted on the inside of the trainee’s helmet to measure indicators of cognitive load, a body band device that includes additional sensors to measure indicators of physical activity, and a user interface (UI) through which the trainer can enter details of the simulation into the system prior to the actual exercise. Through this UI, the trainer can take notes and record time-tagged photos and videos to record performance details as the scenario unfolds. Having prototyped a monitoring unit, we then developed software incorporating complex event processing and probabilistic modeling to extract and fuse the best indicators of cognitive workload and team dynamics from the multiple, high-volume data streams originating from the sensor suite, across both physically and cognitively demanding conditions. We then designed a separate UI that displays the interpreted data, including information about the state of the individual and of the team as a whole.

Future work will include validation of each component of MEDIC using both controlled laboratory studies and testing in realistic training environments (simulation centers).


After action review UI through which the trainer can review the details

The Benefit

Because of promising initial results, we are validating MEDIC using both controlled laboratory studies and testing in realistic training environments (medical and military training simulations) in partnership with our collaborators across the country. This system is poised to have far reaching benefits for a number of emergency management training groups, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local governments, as well as in applications for training emergency medical personnel (e.g., emergency room staff, disaster response teams) and first responders (e.g., emergency medical technicians).


This material is based upon work supported by the United States Army Medical Research and Material Command under Contract No. W81XWH-14-C-0018. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Army Medical Research and Material Command.


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