A PROGRAMMATIC RESEARCH APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF TEAM ENVIRONMENT ON CEREBRAL CORTICAL DYNAMICS AND ATTENTION
Miller, Matthew Walker
Hatfield, Bradley D
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This dissertation describes a programmatic research approach to understanding how team environments alter individuals' brain dynamics so as to produce variations in individuals' cognitive-motor performances. This research is of fundamental interest as humans frequently perform in team environments. Specifically, the central purpose of this research was to determine if adaptive team environments are conducive to efficient brain dynamics such that tasks are accomplished with minimal neural costs. The dissertation is comprised of four studies (papers), each of which makes a unique contribution to the dissertation's central objective. The first paper reports a positive directional relationship between cerebral cortical activation as well as networking and task load. The second paper describes a new neurophysiological method for indexing attentional reserve, which is positively related to the efficiency of cerebral cortical activation and networking. The third paper describes the development of a paradigm employed to investigate the impact of team environment on neurocognitive functioning. This study used non-physiological techniques to index neurocognitive functioning while participants performed a cognitive-motor task in various team environments. Results suggest that, relative to neutral environments, maintaining performance in maladaptive team environments comes at a neurocognitive cost, while adaptive team environments enhance performance without such a cost. The final study applied the neurophysiological methods described in the first two studies to the team environment paradigm employed in the third study to provide neurobiological evidence in support of the conclusions reached in the third paper. Additionally, the final paper provides insight into the neurobiological changes underlying the alterations in neurocognitive functioning and task performance reported in the third paper. Specifically, the final paper reports that, relative to neutral environments, maintaining performance in maladaptive team environments comes at the expense of the efficiency of cerebral cortical activation and attentional reserve, while adaptive team environments enhance performance without such costs. Additionally, the final paper suggests that adaptive team environments may generate more optimal states of arousal, leading to performance enhancement. By comprehending the impact of team environments on brain dynamics, humans performing as members of teams in a variety of settings may be better equipped to maximize their performances.