429. Go with the Flow: Enhancing Human Cognition

[Editor’s Note:  Army Mad Scientist is pleased to present our latest episode of The Convergence podcast, recorded on location at I/ITSEC 2022, the world’s largest modeling and simulation conference in Orlando, Florida.  Co-hosts  Luke Shabro and Matt Santaspirt spoke with Dr. Maria Kozhevnikov about non-relaxing meditative states, enhanced cognition, the relationship between video games and reaching that enhanced cognitive state, and the associated ramifications for Army training — Enjoy!]


[If the podcast dashboard is not rendering correctly for you, please click here to listen to the podcast.]

Maria Kozhevnikov, Associate Professor of Psychology at the National University of Singapore and Visiting Associate Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, is a cognitive neuroscientist with an interest in enhancing human cognition and understanding the potential of the human mind.  Her research uses modern technology, such as augmented, virtual, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR), as well as ancient meditative techniques.  The following bullet points highlight key insights gleaned from our interview with Dr. Kozhevnikov:

      • Meditation is a great technique to induce relaxation and reduce stress, but there are many different kinds of meditation. To enhance cognitive capacity, a type of meditation can be used to induce stress to an individual in order for them to learn from it and combat it in a controlled environment.
      • Meditation which is arousal-based or “good stress”-based will deliver stress that the individual can handle while still focusing on and completing the task at hand. This type of meditation is more suited to Soldiers on the battlefield who will be operating in austere environments with external factors competing for their focus.
      • Arousal-based meditation releases adrenaline into the blood stream (as opposed to cortisol being released from “bad stress”).  Adrenaline triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response, which in turn amplifies cognitive and mental resources to meet the demand of the task at hand.
      • People process information about the space around them in two ways:  allocentric and egocentric. Allocentric processing involves an individual interpreting objects in space as they relate to other objects in space, while egocentric processing involves an individual interpreting objects in space as they relate to their own body. This distinction is important because it identifies two different ways in which learning and training occurs. It’s very important for a pilot to be egocentric while it’s important for an air traffic controller to be allocentric. Different job types require different learning methods.
      • Game-based training does not necessarily have to be immersive or high fidelity to effectively train the mind. Two dimensional video games have been shown to be just as effective as high fidelity, completely immersive, 3D first-person games, as long as the user feels there is a real threat to them or their avatar. The most important aspect is to simulate a survival-type of situation and cause the body to believe there is an actual danger to the player.  Generating realistic stress can enhance the overall effectiveness of Soldier training and mission rehearsal.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of The Convergence on 09 February 2023!

If you enjoyed this post and podcast, check out the following related content:

A New American Way of Training and associated podcast, with Jennifer McArdle

It’s All In Your Head: How The Brain Makes Better Soldiers and associated podcast, with Zach Schonbrun

Making Quick Decisions, Quicker! and associated podcast, with proclaimed Mad Scientist Jason Sherwin

The Future of Learning: Personalized, Continuous, and Accelerated

The Metaverse: Blurring Reality and Digital Lives and associated podcast, with Cathy Hackl

Fight Club Prepares Lt Col Maddie Novák for Cross-Dimension Manoeuvre, by then LTC Arnel David, U.S. Army, and Major Aaron Moore, British Army, along with their interview in UK Fight Club – Gaming the Future Army and associated podcast

The Last Frontier, by PFC Peter Brenner

Back to the Future Writing Contest:  Crowdsourcing is an effective tool for harvesting ideas, thoughts, and concepts from a wide variety of interested individuals, helping to diversify thought and challenge conventional assumptions.  Army Mad Scientist seeks to crowdsource the intellect of the Nation (i.e., you — our community of action!) with our Back to the Future Writing Contest.  Entries should address one of the suggested topics listed here.  Entries will be accepted in two formats:

      • A written essay (no more than 1500 words, please!)

We will pick a winner from each of these two formats! Contest Winners will be proclaimed official Mad Scientists and be featured here in the Mad Scientist Laboratory.  Semi-finalists of merit will also be published!

This contest is open to any and every one — multiple submissions are encouraged!

DEADLINE:  All entries are due NLT 11:59 pm Eastern this Friday, January 13, 2023!

Questions?  Send us an eMail at:  madscitradoc@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Army Futures Command (AFC), or Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

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