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Basic Research
Our diverse basic research is funded by the Air
Force Office of Scientific Research. Here the focus is
on fundamental scientific discovery and the development of novel research instruments and methods,
with specific research efforts informed by existing
knowledge and technology gaps, enduring challenges, and long-term Air Force strategic priorities
and requirements.
What is
Cognitive Modeling?
Cognitive modeling is the use of empirical and analytical techniques as well as mathematical and computational systems to advance our understanding of
the human mind (in the case of basic research) and
the development of innovative cognitive technologies (in the case of applied research). Emphasis is
usually on information processing associated with
perceiving, learning, forgetting, reasoning, decision
making, and problem solving.
A small sampling of our basic cognitive modeling
portfolio includes: auditory and visual perception,
fatigue and vigilance, cognitive response to environmental toxins, strategic adaptation to uncertain, nonstationary decision environments, language comprehension, and new methods and frameworks for
model development, evaluation, and selection.
Application & Transition
Cognitive models, with their emphasis on rigorous
development methodology and mathematical and
computational implementation, lend themselves
naturally to applications of maturing technologies
that transition to the warfighter or transfer to external industry and academic partners. Examples from
our applied cognitive modeling portfolio include:
computational partners that serve as teammates
or aids
design advisors that improve the humanmachine interface
cognitive enhancements to autonomous system
intelligent tutors that prescribe adaptations for
improved education and training.
The relevance of cognitive modeling to our future
technologies is apparent in the Air Force’s Technol-­
ogy Horizons (2010) and Global Horizons (2013) reports, and we are hard at work on the science and
technology base that will create those futures.
Distribution A: Approved for public release.
Distribution is unlimited (PA #: 88ABW-2013-2478).
AFRL's cognitive modelers are interested in new opportunities to apply their scientific research and
technology development skills. If you are interested
in a collaborative or on-site employment opportunity
in cognitive modeling, at levels ranging from summer intern, to research assistant, to post-doc, to visiting scientist or principal investigator, please send
an email to:
[email protected]
[email protected]
Human Effectiveness
We are a diverse group of scientists and
engineers conducting research and development specific to the human element of warfighting capability. We lead
the U.S. Air Force in its human-centered
research, and we integrate biological
and cognitive technologies to optimize
and protect our warfighters’ capabilties to Fly, Fight, and Win in Air, Space, and Cyberspace. The directorate is composed of 4 divisions: Warfighter Readiness, Warfighter Interface, Bioeffects, and HumanCentered Information Surveillance and
Warfighter Readiness
We face the challenge that the U.S. Air Force’s train-­
ing and readiness requirements are outpacing the
capacity and existing opportunities to train. The mission of the Warfighter Readiness Research division
is to study, develop, and transition human performance methods and technologies that provide the
Warfighter the necessary knowledge and skill to
dominate their operating environment. We envision
training that is personalized, adaptive, learnercentric, informed by cognitive and neural sciences,
and enabled by competency-based performance
measurement and robust cognitive agents.
To achieve this future, a combination of basic and
applied cognitive modeling research is underway.
Examples include natural language understanding,
strategic adaptation to dynamic task and decision
environments, fatigue effects on task performance,
enabling rapid model development for high-fidelity,
large scale task environments, optimization of training schedules, and integration of multiple learning
mechanisms in cognitive agents.
Warfighter Interface
The Warfighter Interface division discovers, develops, and transitions innovative human-machine interface solutions together with human performance
augmentation, modeling, and advanced humanautonomy interaction to ensure effective warfighter
decisions and enhance mission effectiveness.
Across the division, research is conducted on basic
mechanisms of visual, auditory and haptic perception, multimodal communication, computational cognitive neuroscience, and human-machine interaction
and visualization. Researchers are integrating computational and mathematical physiological and cognitive models to support adaptive automation architectures for human-machine systems to aid and augment human operators. This work utilizes novel tools
for assessing cognitive states of operators in conjunction with cutting edge technology for augmenting user interactions with machine systems. Additional efforts are focused on developing integrative
models of the cognitive and physiological effects of vigilance, stress, and
teamwork, accounting for the variable
influence of environment on human operators of complex
Developed by researchers at AFRL, MindModeling is
a capability open to the cognitive science community
that enables the rapid turn-around of modeling results over very large parameter spaces. Rapid turnaround, often > 500x speedup, is enabled through
High Performance Computing centers and volunteer
computing resources. Visit the url below to get
Bioeffects is
interested in
applying cognitive modeling to predict
and detriments
to cognitive
that may result
from environmental stressors such as nanoparticles,
toxins, radio frequency and optical radiation, and
other forms of directed energy. This division seeks
to protect warfighters from environmental stressors
and help them exploit the bioeffects of those same
stressors. In particular, this division discovers and
applies knowledge about the bioeffects of these
stressors to enable warfighters to perform effectively, efficiently, and safely on the modern battlefield and to prevent mission degradation due to toxic
exposure. Current efforts are focused on empirical
research to support future development of models to
predict robust behavioral performance given different environmental stressors.
Human-Centered ISR
The Human-Centered Intelligence, Surveillance, &
Reconnaissance (ISR) division conducts research to
discover, develop, and transition human-centric solutions to processing, exploiting, and disseminating
intelligence. Cognitive and behavioral modeling is
being developed to improve performance of intelligence analysts and human-machine systems for information discovery and
exploitation. Cognitive
modeling is critical for
describing, prescribing,
and predicting analyst
performance and assessing improvements in performance enabled by
novel machine solutions.