Office of Naval Research Summer Faculty Research & Sabbatical Leave Program
Naval Health Research Center

The Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) conducts basic and applied research in behavioral psychopharmacology, cognitive psychophysiology, environmental medicine, ergonomics research and health psychology. The Center enjoys an active liaison with both the BalboaNaval Hospital and the Pacific Fleet, allowing the staff to conduct research both in the laboratory and in the field, aboard Naval vessels and at other Naval facilities. Clinical tissues addressed include sleep management, schizophrenia and AIDS, and human performance studies focused on identifying methods to support the operational capabilities of personnel deployed on surface ships, submarines, and Navy aircraft.

Behavioral and psychological responses during sustained performance:

This investigation focuses on evaluating levels of performance during stressed states due to sleep loss, fatigue, and variations in work/sleep schedules, and also assesses the recuperative effects of sleep in relation to length of sleep and time of day when sleep occurs. The goal is to develop work/sleep schedules that maintain optimum performance during sustained military operations.

Epidemiology and disease surveillance in Naval personnel:

Studies include the etiology, distribution, and long-term course of disease and injury in Naval populations. Special topics of interest are the occurrence of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV); occupational and environmental associations with disease; the etiology, diagnosis, treatment, and disposition of psychiatric disorders; and demographic, personality and life-style risk factors in chronic disease.

Neuroelectric and neuromagnetic assessment and cognitive performance:

Studies primarily utilize electrophysiological methods to evaluate changes in attentional resources and decision-making processes. The goal is to utilize EEG spectral analysis, evoked potentials, and the steady-state response as indicators of changes in performance. Current topics of interest include investigating the cognitive performance effects of increased gravitational force and multimodal information processing. This methodology is also applied to clinical studies investigating cognitive performance in recovering alcoholics and schizophrenics.

Performance enhancement research under extreme environments:

Current efforts involve laboratory and field studies of the effects of sleep deprivation, continuous heavy physical work, heat and cold stress, fatigue, jet-lag, and emotional reactions to stress on biochemical and musculoskeletal systems, and on cognitive and physical performance, as measured by state-of-the-art technologies. The goal is to develop methods for measuring and enhancing human performance in extreme environments.

Physical fitness and job performance:

This research focuses on exercise physiology; specifically, the relationships between physical fitness and job performance, and the various underlying factors that are involved (e.g. biochemical and life-style variables, and environmental tolerance).

Psychopharmacology techniques to enhance human performance:

Laboratory and field studies are conduced to evaluate the effects of pharmacologic agents on sleep electrophysiology, daytime arousal level, and cognitive psychomotor performance. Agents of interest include sedative hypnotics, stimulants, and certain dietary constituents. The goals of these studies include developing psychopharmacological techniques to augment and maintain human effectiveness during sleep loss and after transport across time zones.