Intelligence experts reach out to industry for tools that could help predict brain performance

WASHINGTON, 5 Aug. 2014. U.S. intelligence researchers are considering a neural-measurement project that attempts to predict people's ability to learn, reason, and the areas in which they are be most likely to become experts.

Intelligence experts reach out to industry for tools that could help predict brain performance
Intelligence experts reach out to industry for tools that could help predict brain performance
WASHINGTON, 5 Aug. 2014. U.S. intelligence researchers are considering a neural-measurement project that attempts to predict people's ability to learn, reason, and the areas in which they are be most likely to become experts.

Officials of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in Washington, issued a sources-sought notice Friday (IARPA-RFI-14-08) for the Using Neural Tools to Augment Prediction of Performance, Expertise, and Domain-knowledge (UNTAPPED) program.

IARPA experts are asking industry for information on novel approaches and tools for predicting an individual's future cognitive performance in complex environments using structural and functional measures of the brain.

An ability to predict a person's future cognitive performance and domain expertise could enable organizations to determine in advance who is most likely to be able to learn and master complex skills and accomplish tasks in real-world environments, IARPA officials say.

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This could increase an organization's return on investment for training, help match personnel to tasks and environments, and benefit professions where job demands and required skills change rapidly due to new environments, new competitors, and advances in tools and methods.

Although academic achievement, exams, and previous experience can help predict future performance, research suggests that direct measurement of the brain may offer additional predictive power; the only question is how much more.

To find out, IARPA is asking industry for help in how to characterize the state of the art in brain-based predictors of future cognitive performance. In particular, IARPA is interested in non-invasive assays of brain structure and function to predict who will best learn complex skills and accomplish tasks relevant to national security.

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Beyond characterizing the state of the art, IARPA also seeks insight into tools, methods, and analyses that will become available over the next five years that may help overcome today's challenges in predicting future cognitive performance.

The IARPA UNTAPPED program revolves around four topics: measures, outcomes, alternatives, and limitations.

Measures involves brain structure and function that could help predict future cognitive performance or domain expertise, and the technologies, measures, and technical challenges of collecting this information.

Outcomes involves the types of cognitive performance that could be predicted from neural measurements, and earliest times in a person's development that measurements could be effective.

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Alternatives involves comparing and combining brain-based predictors with conventional non-neural measures. Limitations, meanwhile, involves the likely theoretical and practical limitations to developing, testing, and using neural tools and measure.

Responses to this request for information could help IARPA officials formulate a formal program.

Companies interested in submitting ideas should respond by email no later than 30 Sept. 2014 to dni-iarpa-rfi-14-08@iarpa.gov. Email questions or concerns to IARPA's R. Jacob Vogelstein or Adam Russell at dni-iarpa-rfi-14-08@iarpa.gov.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/notices/42906861328d3062e0737ba753a22577.

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