Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have conducted studies to build a database on brain patterns that could help to predict how soldiers will react in  proactive and reactive states.

A proactive state is one in which a soldier is said to have good situational awareness of the battlefield, but in a reactive state soldiers are reacting to situations.

A team led by ARL neuroscientist Jean Vettel examined brain patterns using an electroencephalogram (EEG), which records voltage fluctuations in different parts of the brain through sensors placed on a person's head.

Brain patterns are formed by activated neural pathways linking various regions of the brain. However, active neural connections may differ among people performing the same activity.

Experiments to improve understanding of individual differences in brain patterns have been conducted for the past seven years.

"The ARL researchers may use non-invasive sensors to monitor soldiers all day while they perform various tasks."

Vettel said that researchers are beginning to use the database they have developed to predict soldiers' performance.

The ARL researchers may use non-invasive sensors to monitor soldiers all day while they perform various tasks.

The researchers' future experiments might induce fatigue or sleep deprivation in the safety of the simulator, as well as examine the brain patterns of soldiers on patrol.

The study of brain science could lead to improvements, such as increased effectiveness in detecting and engaging the enemy, and increased alertness while driving through battlespaces.

Image: EEG sensors and cap used to monitor test subjects' brain wave patterns is shown mocked up, with brain wave patterns in the background. Photo: courtesy of David Vergun.