T Minus 17
Cognitive Systems: Decision Making
The fourth aspect of cognitive function that we are measuring is decision-making. Decision-making is our ability to assess a variety of options that are in front of us and select one. Sometimes this is very easy, what some might call a System I or "gut hunch" decision and other times is a lot more challenging, what some might call a System II or "analytical" decision. In either case, like the other cognitive systems I have discussed decision-making is impacted by cognitive fatigue.
However, I do not think we need a lot of research to support this idea - we have all experienced difficulty making decisions when we are tired.
The problem of course in space or on Mars, is that if you make bad decisions, someone might die.
The reason why we make bad decisions when we are tired is quite simple - all of the neural systems that support decision-making - memory, attention, perception are impaired. And the actual decision-making systems themselves are impaired.
Given the importance of decision-making in our everyday lives this is yet another cognitive system that we will be monitoring while we are in the HISEAS habitat.
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Dr. Olav Krigolson is the Associate Director for the Centre for Biomedical Research, an Associate Professor in Neuroscience, and the Principle Investigator of the Theoretical and Applied Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Victoria.