Magazine article National Defense

Computer Simulations of Stressful Environments Help Boost Performance

Magazine article National Defense

Computer Simulations of Stressful Environments Help Boost Performance

Article excerpt

"Computer simulation" and "psychologist" are not terms usually used in V the same sentence. But one company is trying to fuse the two via cognitive science.

The goal is to optimize human performance in high-risk industries and high-stress environments where the opportunity for error is high, said Jeff Beaubien, head of medical and healthcare systems at Aptima.

The firm, based in Woburn, Mass., specializes in "human-centered engineering," which seeks to solve the problems of human performance by creating simulations that are tailored to a user's strengths and weaknesses.

With human-centered engineering, "we try to achieve a fit between the group, its culture, the processes and technology involved," said Beaubien.

Aptima has developed programs for defense, government and private sector clients to help those groups improve overall team performance. To accomplish this, psychologists interview the client to find out what they need to do, in what conditions and with what information, Beaubien explained. For example, they will take into account the computer savviness of the group and where the program will be used, he said.

Psychologists identify group skills and needs, and then the company's software engineers build the actual simulation. …

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