Tip of the Spear: The Next Generation of Brain Health Baselining

An Air Force Master Sergeant performs an exercise with virtual reality goggles and wires connected to his head.
Master Sgt. Bradley Blair, senior enlisted leader, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, or USAFSAM, Office of the Dean, completes an exercise in a T-6A Texan II virtual reality flight simulator while wearing a cap that measures brain activity after applying a cervical transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, or ctVNS, device to his neck during a test at the Human Universal Measurement and Assessment Network Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, May 19, 2023. Researchers with the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, Human Effectiveness Directorate, developed a military-grade ctVNS device to enhance cognitive performance in Airmen and Guardians, specifically to accelerate training, mitigate fatigue, and enable decision superiority. USAFSAM and the Human Effectiveness Directorate are two mission units that comprise AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing (U.S. Air Force photo/Richard Eldridge).

Presented: April 12, 2024 12:00 pm
Presented by: Amy E. Bair, Ph.D., Catherine P. Starnes, Ph.D.

Brain Health Mini-Series:  Part 1

SABRES (Special Operations Assessment Baselining Readiness Evaluation System) utilizes objective measures of cognitive performance, objective measures of brain physiology, and subjective assessments of cognition, recovery, and well-being. Its intent is to collect and analyze comprehensive, actionable data on the brain function and performance of Special Operations Forces service members. Analyses of these metrics allow triangulation of how the individual is experiencing life, with immediate behavioral outputs based on brain function, and observation of fundamental electrical processes in the brain. Identifying patterns of overlap and anomalies enables a unique understanding of the individual’s well-being and brain fitness. The outcome enables the Warfighter to address any negative findings or deficits and optimize desired abilities via cognitive performance training plans and/or referrals to other support services, as indicated. Reassessment will occur periodically or following a brain-related event (traumatic brain injury). By routinely collecting these brain data, it is possible to identify potential unknown changes in function and allow earlier delivery of interventions before they become serious impairments or impact mission readiness.

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