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What’s Neuroergonomics?

D 17 June 2016    

Neuroergonomics is the application of tools and knowledge of Neurosciences to Ergonomics/Humans Factors. The overall objective of Neuroergonomics is to use existing data on human performance and brains functions to design human centered systems to improve their safety and efficiency. The discipline also aims at providing an advanced understanding of the neural mechanisms that sustained the human performance.

The Brain at Work and in Everyday Life

A pilot decides to persist in a risky landing despite critical alarms and adverse weather conditions. A financial analyst, overwhelmed by contradictory and uncertain data, has difficulties to make a decision under time pressure. An anesthesiologist attending a long, complex surgical procedure is physically and mentally fatigued and does not notice a dangerous change in the patient’s vital signs. A brain-injured patient or an elderly fails to adapt when facing unfamiliarity in everyday life situations.

In each of these scenarios, decision making and executive functioning are impaired with potentially serious consequences, particularly when humans interact with a dynamic, uncertain or stressing environment. Traditionally, the analysis of such interactions, as practiced by professionals in the field of human factors and ergonomics, has primarily focused on the human operator’s behavior and the subjective evaluation. However, recent advances in cognitive neuroscience and imaging techniques allow researchers to examine the brain mechanisms in increasingly-naturalistic work and everyday life settings. Moreover, progress in artificial intelligence proposes new models to better understand cognitive processing. This interdisciplinary approach—termed Neuroergonomics—has witnessed extensive growth since its development a decade ago. Accordingly, the time is right to take stock of the achievements of neuroergonomics research in order to discuss and develop ideas for the future. This is the principal aim of this conference. Leading investigators in neuroergonomics from around the world will meet to describe their findings and to reveal their vision of the future of this exciting interdisciplinary field.

Frédéric Dehais, ISAE, France
Hasan Ayaz, Drexel University, USA