December 7, 2016

Neuroergonomics: Getting inside the brain to steer clear of risks

Today is International Civil Aviation Day, a perfect opportunity to reflect on the “Brain at Work” conference held by the AXA Research Fund to further neuroergonomics, the science that studies the brain to better understand how humans and machines interact.
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Frédéric Dehais is the first holder of the AXA Chair in Neuroergonomics for Flight Safety. The Chair was designed to unravel what is going on in pilots’ minds in times of stress, which brain mechanisms are involved and the solutions to be implemented to improve safety and performance.

In addition to aviation and automobile, neuroergonomics can have implications in a number of other fields such as health, finance, and even crowd evacuation. Take finance for instance, “Neuroergonomics could contribute to the design of artificial intelligence (AI) capable of making the system more resilient by eliminating bias from the table” says Eric Chaney, advisor to AXA’s Chief Economist, Laurence Boone. “At AXA, we believe that trust is going to be the key word of the future. We are thinking of how can we enhance trust in our way we do business, and the way we're dealing with data. Neuroergonomics give us priceless perspectives in that area”.

Technological advances driven by neuroergonomics can also lead to improved care for head injuries. The development of portable devices promises faster, more comprehensive care for patients. For example, recording brain activity over longer periods of time could help to detect “silent” injuries – without waiting for symptoms to appear. The effectiveness of certain treatments, including treatments of mental and behavioral disorders, such as addictions, could also be better assessed.