Cognitive Enhancement and Ergonomics


People      Methods      Collaborations     

Looking at how people interact with anything in the world around them, is there a way to make this interaction work better based on what is known about the human mind?

What can we do to prevent human errors in the workplace? How can we design products and interfaces such as websites so that they are the most intuitive and efficient to use? Can we enhance our cognitive functions like memory, attention or creativity using videogames? What is the influence of sleep or diet on human performance? How can we evaluate the accuracy of witness statements in court? What is the optimal way to learn a new language or skill? Can robots identify, or even have, emotions?

These questions, and many more, fall within the scope of Cognitive Enhancement and Ergonomics, in which the core idea is that, in any system which includes humans in a certain environment, the outcome (or performance) is always a result of the interaction between the cognitive and physical functioning of the human and the properties of the environment.

Outcome = Cognition x Environment

The main emphasis of this research profile lies on translating cognitive psychological theory into practice. With our research, we aim at optimizing the outcome, which allows for two approaches:

The cognitive enhancement approach, in which we focus on cognition (in the broadest sense) of the human, which includes cognitive control functions like memory, attention, inhibition, flexibility, but also motivation and enjoyment, and risk aversion. 

The cognitive ergonomics approach, which focuses on improving the interaction between the environment and the individual given the available cognitive resources. With environment we might refer to a specific organizational setting like a factory or a school, but we might also refer to a product such as ticket vending machines at the subway, a particular website, or perhaps a tool, ranging from a simple hammer to the cockpit of a spaceship. 


Cognitive Enhancement

Cognitive Enhancement reflects the use of any (legitimate) means to reach one’s personal best, and has gained great interest over the past years. We investigate the mechanism behind improving human performance and apply this knowledge to optimize cognitive performance, creativity,  expertise and associated well-being. Our aim is to optimize the abilities of people of all ages, regardless of mental limitations. Hence, we study the effects of the manipulation of brain physiology and environmental circumstances on human performance in a theory-driven fashion. Examples of manipulations aimed at cognitive enhancement are (electrical) brain stimulation, food supplements, training programs, and lifestyle changes. 

LIBC researchers involved in Cognitive Enhancement are: Prof. dr. Bernhard Hommel, Prof. dr. Lorenza Colzato, Dr. Guido Band, Dr. Roberta Sellaro, Dr. Laura Steenbergen, Kerwin Olfers, Bryant Jongkees, Roderik Gerritsen, Dominique Lippelt


Cognitive Ergonomics

Cognitive Ergonomics is aimed at supporting cognitive performance by studying the interaction of humans with the environment (i.e. other elements of the 'system'). In cognitive ergonomics, we study cognition in occupational settings in order to optimize human well-being and system performance. Topics include mental workload, decision-making,human-computer interaction, traffic design, human reliability, human resources management, work stress, and training as these may relate to human-system design. Examples are the development of accident-prevention programs or user-friendly tools and interfaces.

LIBC researchers involved in Cognitive Ergonomics are: Prof. dr. Bernhard Hommel, Dr. Guido Band, Dr. Fenna Poletiek, Dr. Pascal Haazebroek, Dr. Jop Groeneweg, Kerwin Olfers, Roy de Kleijn