In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable
Intuition, decision making, and US Troops.
Introduction (Via NYT)
Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.
Experience matters, of course: if you have seen something before, you are more likely to anticipate it the next time. And yet, recent research suggests that something else is at work, too.
Small differences in how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones help explain why some people sense imminent danger before most others do.
Excerpts (Via NYT)
In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.
The brains of elite troops also appear to register perceived threats in a different way from the average enlistee, said Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, and the V.A. San Diego Healthcare System. At the sight of angry faces, members of the Navy Seals show significantly higher activation in the insula than regular soldiers, according to a just-completed study.