NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 X13.01-9560
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Space Human Factors Assessment Tools
PROPOSAL TITLE: Integrated Cognitive Assessment: Combining Measurement, System, and Mission

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
NTI, Inc.
1 1/2 S. Central Avenue
Fairborn, OH 45324 - 4716
(937) 879-0612

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert D. O'Donnell, Ph.D.
1 1/2 S. Central Avenue
Fairborn, OH 45324 - 4716
(937) 879-0612

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3 to 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Existing cognitive performance test batteries consist of synthetic tasks that, while they may probe isolated cognitive functions, provide an incomplete and unconvincing picture of an individual's true cognitive capacity within the total context of space missions. In essence, they are 'laboratory' measures that appear unrelated to the real-world environment. This leads to user non-compliance or rejection. The present proposal describes a technique for integrating traditional cognitive performance measures with assessment of the system and mission in which the individual must operate. This yields quantified measures of the person's cognitive ability to perform specific jobs in space. Specifically, an entertaining and scientifically rigorous assessment tool is integrated with a sleep/fatigue model and a quantified workload estimate for each task. This is accomplished by selecting tests based on task analyses of what the astronaut actually has to do, using the Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST) to predict performance capacity as a function of sleep/rest, and integrating a mathematical vector to quantify the workload of specific tasks. The resulting "Person-System-Mission (PSM) index" provides a totally new and unique way not only to assess present cognitive capability, but to diagnose specific causes of decrement, and to suggest remedial actions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
As noted in the SBIR solicitation "Due to high intensity workload, disturbed sleep conditions, and other stresses of spaceflight, some astronauts have reported experiences of disturbed cognitive processes and fatigue." In any complex system, such disturbances can be catastrophic, and cannot be tolerated. Predicting the effects of such disturbances on specific tasks required of the astronaut, however, is essential since not all tasks require the same degree of cognitive capacity. The existence of a valid metric that is expressed in terms of the individual's ability to carry out specific tasks, rather than in terms of esoteric cognitive skills, will dramatically increase the value of the assessment tool to the individual, the commander, and the flight surgeon. This will lead to incorporation of such a metric on all spaceflights, especially those of long duration.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The principal non-NASA Government applications for the technology developed here will be in the Department of Defense and the Homeland Security Department. This is true for exactly the same reasons that the technology is of interest to NASA. Mission- and safety-critical jobs frequently involve stressful conditions such as fatigue and high workload in both of these agencies. In DoD, for instance, the need to assess the combat readiness of the dismounted warrior has led to the establishment of the "Cog-Fit" program, which is attempting to model the effects of combat stresses on the person's ability to perform their job. The Air Force has similar programs. Non-NASA commercial applications will involve marketing the technology to educational, industrial, and self-help organizations that will recognize the value of a scientifically well-grounded, entertaining system. For these reasons, it is expected that the present technology will receive immediate application in these and other Government agencies.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Pilot Support Systems
Spaceport Infrastructure and Safety

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50