Shooting for the Stars

ACE’s cognitive simulation started where so many innovations do: in the military. A research done by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and sponsored by NASA on US and Israeli Air Force pilots showed 30% (!) improvement in the cockpit.

The military goal was to minimize aerial errors and the collateral damage - both to valuable personnel and expensive equipment – that those mistakes tend to cause. The initial study was conducted by Prof. Daniel Gopher of the Technion in Haifa, a world expert in cognitive science, in cooperation with high-ranking military personnel. Gopher and his colleagues thought they could train pilots' brains on land, using a cognitive simulator, or “cognitive trainer”, to the point where anticipating challenges in flight became completely instinctive, thereby vastly reducing the chance of making costly mistakes.


The results were mind-boggling. The researchers identified a record improvement in flight performance - more than 30%, in two of the leading air forces in the world – for cadets who had undergone only 10 hours of focused attention training in Gopher’s simulated “game.” This training program was based on a very basic looking training module called Space Fortress, combined with a unique and sophisticated training methology.

In another study, sponsored by NASA at the US Army Aviation Center, cognitive scientists compared the results of the cognitive trainer Gopher’s team had developed to a sophisticated, pictorial and high-level-graphic and physical-fidelity-based computer simulation of a Apache helicopter. The result: 100% graduation rate for the cognitive training group, with only 18% graduation rate to the high fidelity one!


“What we have discovered is that a key factor for an effective transfer from training environment to reality is that the training program ensures “Cognitive Fidelity”, this is, it should faithfully represent the mental demands that happen in the real world. Traditional approaches focus instead on physical fidelity, which may seem more intuitive, but less effective and harder to achieve.”

Prof. Daniel Gopher