Part performed at the Royal Military Academy and the University of Stuttgart: Optimizing performance on a flight simulator using self- regulation of central and autonomic arousal.

Various non-pharmaceutical methods can be used to improve performance. The biofeedback training is one of these methods. Biofeedback (biological feedback) training is the common term for psychophysiological self- regulation. This term refers to the ability of an individual to voluntarily control functions of the central nervous system (CNS) and autonomic nervous system (ANS). Such control is acquired by means of instrumental learning. In the biofeedback technique, sensors record physiological signals, ranging from electro-encephalogram (EEG) to galvanic skin response (GSR), electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiration; and a graphical or auditory user interface provides moment-by-moment feedback information about this physiological responses. The overall activation and phasic arousal response can be quantified, measured and observed by the trainee and the trainer. This feedback loop allows the individuals to learn to become aware of this and to exert a direct control over the physiology to achieve an optimal psychophysiological functioning. In the present project, we focus on the use of two biofeedback techniques, which according to the literature are the most efficient for performance enhancement, namely heart rate variability biofeedback and neurofeedback, which is EEG-based biofeedback. We will test the efficiency of both methods for two purposes, readily applicable to the operational field: 1) the effect on an already acquired performance to counteract performance decay over time; 2) the effect on the learning curve of a cognitive and psychomotor performance. In both cases, the targeted performance will be evaluated on a flight simulator.

Part performed at the Australian Institute of Sport: Optimizing Performance and Sleep in Elite Athletes using Bio- and Neuro-Feedback.

Recent research at the Australian Institute of Sport investigating sleep habits in elite athletes has demonstrated that many athletes have problems in both initiating and maintaining sleep. The purpose of this study is to 1) develop an athlete specific bio- and neuro-feedback training program and 2) to test the effectiveness of this intervention in optimizing sleep in elite athletes. It is believed that sleep is one of the fundamental aspects of athlete recovery and developing an effective non- pharmacological treatment for enhancing sleep has great potential to enhance recovery and improve performance. This project aims to develop a new training program that athletes can use to optimize sleep.

This study is performed in collaboration with Professor Romain Meeusen from the Department of Human Physiology (MFYS), Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Professor Ernst Messerschmid and Professor Stefanos Fasoulas, from the IRS at the University of Stuttgart; Professor John Gruzelier, of the University College London and Dr Shona Halson, Australian Institute of Sport, Australia.

This project is funded by DoD under grant HFM 1202 and by the Australian Institute of Sport under the Big Ideas Fund.