[Editor’s Note: Army Mad Scientist is pleased to present our latest episode of The Convergence podcast, featuring our interview with proclaimed Mad Scientist Jason Sherwin, CEO and Co-Founder of deCervo, discussing the science of quick decision making, how deCervo blends gaming with science to help individuals make the best decisions in high stakes and complex environments, how these technologies have enhanced professional athletes’ performance, and these technologies’ potential for enhancing Soldiers’ performance — Enjoy!]
Jason Sherwin, Ph.D., is a founder and currently serves as CEO of deCervo, a neuroscience tech company he founded with his research partner, Jordan Muraskin, Ph.D. Since starting in 2014, deCervo has provided cognitive training programs using neuroimaging and customized phone apps to over 15 Major League Baseball organizations, over 60,000 baseball and softball players worldwide, the umpires of the Major Leagues, and the officials of the National Hockey League. deCervo has been an Army research grant recipient since 2017 and Sherwin himself has done contract research for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory going back to 2011. Continuing to apply its novel approach to decision training, deCervo is currently launching apps in law enforcement and tennis training to complement its suite of five other apps for decision training.
Analyzing quick decision-making is done by providing simple stimuli to people, imaging their response and its speed, and identifying how their brain reacts to different inputs. This can be accomplished by having a subject listen to a song with an unexpected, abrupt key change; not only do brains show a reaction to that unexpected change, but trained musicians’ brains produce a stronger response, as captured via electro-encephalogram (EEG), than a non-musician’s brain.
deCervo’s apps for baseball players use accuracy measurements to estimate how well the user discriminates between different kinds of pitches. This approach is an evolution from using EEGs, and shows that non-invasive methods can be just as effective in measuring responses. Improving athletic prowess on the playing field has direct implications for improving warfighting prowesson the modern battlefield.
Emotion impacts all decision making, but deliberate decisions are more susceptible to influence from emotionand often require simulations generated by video or AI to produce environments that are closer to real life. For Soldiers, decisions often need to be deliberate while dealing with fear and strong emotion in dynamic, austere, and potentially lethal environments; training for this kind of decision making requires teaching people how to respond quickly and correctly, despite emotional impacts or inhibition.
Military decision making can involve simple decisions like target detection, but more often requires the ability to make complex, deliberate decisi