This website does not use cookies. Read Privacy Policy here.
Beville Engineering Logo

Give Your Operator a New Brain Courtesy of Area 51


Downloading skills and knowledge directly into an individual’s brain is the stuff of science fiction. As we have learned, science fiction has a way of becoming science fact. Research is currently being performed by the US Air Force that, while not quite a download, is a method of manipulating the brain for enhanced learning (Parasuraman, R. and McKinley, R.A., Using Noninvasive Brain Stimulation to Accelerate Learning and Enhance Human Performance, HUMAN FACTORS, Vol. 56, No. 5, August 2014, pp. 816–824).

Called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, the Air Force has found a way to speed learning by 60%. The techniques involve applying electrical stimulation to the portion of the brain associated with the learning of specific skills and knowledge. It is theorized that the stimulation increases the plasticity of the brain, enabling it to more easily undergo the structural changes that occur with learning. An example of the impact of tDCS is shown in the figure below.

While the subjects in the “Sham” group (no stimulation) got better with practice, the tDCS group did so faster and with greater improvement.

Perceptual Sensitivity

It is estimated that a complex skill can require 10,000 hours of practice to master. The use of tDCS has the potential to reduce that by 6,000 man-hours, or about three man-years. The technique improves both procedural knowledge (what to do) and declarative knowledge (stating facts). While there is still much to learn about tDCS, we may be seeing the future of science fact.

Copyright © 2015 Beville Engineering, Inc., All Rights Reserved

For further information, visit the links below.

| Alarm & Display System Analysis Overview | Alarm Management | Display Design | Alarm & Display Design Seminar | Beville Shape Calculator -Excel download | Alarm Distribution Estimator -Excel download |


Article Published By
Consortium Reports New Findings on Alarm Rates Automation World
How Many Alarms Can An Operator Handle Chemical Processing
Impact of Alarm Rates and Interface Design on Operator Performance Automation World
Operator Interfaces: Moving from Comfortable to Most Effective Automation World
Operator Performance as a Function of Alarm Rate and Interface Design


This year's Fall meeting for the Center for Operator Performance will be October 7-10 in Houston, TX. For more information, please contact Lisa Via. Guests are always welcome!


Our summer newsletter is now available. Click here!

Take our short survey on operator span of control. Click here (new window)

David Strobhar's book, "Human Factors in Process Plant Operation," is now available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book.

Copyright © 1996-2019 Beville Engineering, Inc. All rights reserved. (937)434-1093.