HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Cognitive performance improvement in Canadian Armed Forces personnel during deployment

Article

This study provides information about brain function in troops before and after deployment. The study explores concepts such as resilience, what it means within the military context, as well as considering the main operational stressors that troops encounter during military service.

Abstract

Chronic stress can decrease resilience and diminish cognitive adaptability; thus, operational stressors related to military deployment can pose significant risks to cognitive functioning. Numerous studies have aimed to assess the effects of deployment on cognitive functioning on the basis of cognitive performance measures administered before and after deployment. However, to the best of our knowledge, no studies have measured neurocognitive performance of military personnel while they were deployed to a combat zone. On average, all participants significantly improved their performance on all neurocognitive tests during deployment compared with pre-deployment. At both pre-deployment and deployment time points, the participants demonstrated excellent performance on the AST and RTI test and less-than-optimal performance on the SWM test and SST. The influence of training, social factors, and emotional status, among many others, on cognitive adaptability, should be taken into account to fully understand soldiers' capability to improve and maintain high cognitive functioning during deployment.

Full Reference

Cognitive performance improvement in Canadian Armed Forces personnel during deployment. Asad Makhani, Farzad Akbaryan, and Ibolja Cernak. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health 2015 1:1, 59-67.