SCALE: Shared Cognitive Architectures for Long-term Exploration

Funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA), Award number NNX15AM26G.

Among the remarkable team challenges NASA faces in long distance space exploration (LDSE) missions is the need to maintain team shared mental models (SMMs). Maintaining team SMMs requires the ability to detect shifts in cognition that will likely occur during the mission that could lead to ineffective crew functioning and performance. Maintaining team SMMs also requires validated countermeasures for bringing team members’ cognitive understanding back into alignment. Leaving low Earth orbit is extreme teamwork – team SMMs need to be maintained within teams operating close up (the crew), and between teams operating at an unprecedented distance (i.e., the crew & ground; 33 million miles in the case of a Mars Mission). A multidisciplinary research team leverages expertise in Psychology, Industrial Engineering, & Anthropology to understand the emergence and outcomes of critical shifts in team cognition over LDSE missions. What are the triggering events of SMM divergence, how can we detect them, and which countermeasures most effectively bring them back into alignment? This project leverages a novel conceptual framework of shared cognitive architecture (SCA) to understand the patterns of SMMs that dynamically link members of teams, and teams to other teams, as they go beyond low Earth orbit. We use semantic analysis to identify cognitive shifts, and relational event network analysis to understand the antecedents and consequences of these shifts. We use these alongside an agent-based model fit on LDSE analogue data, so that we can explore an exhaustive set of potential triggering conditions that must be unpacked to conduct efficient ground analogue research. We then conduct this research in HERA, Moonwalk, and Antarctica. The project culminates in the evaluation of a dashboard fed with the results of computational modeling, human validation, and lexical markers to detect and suggest countermeasures to maintain SMMs through time and space.

Publications and Presentations:

DeChurch, L., Contractor, N., Johnson, J., Mesmer-Magnus, J., Plummer, G., Twyman, M., Niler, A., Larson, L. & Hernandez, I. (February, 2016). SCALE: Shared Cognitive Architecture for Long-Distance Exploration. Poster presented at NASA 2016 Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX.

Plummer, G., Jeon, G., DeChurch, L.A., & Contractor, N.S. (April, 2016). Impact of team external activity on team cognition. Paper presented at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA.

Jeon, G., DeChurch, L.A., & Contractor, N.S. (April, 2016). Structural measures of team transactive memory. Paper presented at the International Sunbelt Social Networks Conference, Newport Beach, CA.

DeChurch, L.A., Schultz, M., Johnson, J., Contractor, N.S., Mesmer-Magnus, J., Plummer, G., Twyman, M. (January, 2017). Structured text analysis for evaluating shared cognition. Paper presented at the NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX.

DeChurch, L.A., Niler, A., Plummer, G., Tanaka, K., & Contractor, N.S. (January, 2017). Impact of social connectedness, communication delay, and sleep deprivation on cognitive network similarity in analog teams. Poster presented at the NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX.

DeChurch, L.A., Larson, L., Gómez-Zará, D., Jones, B.R., Contractor, N., & Johnson, J. (January, 2017). Leadership emergence in space multiteam systems. Paper presented at the NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX.

DeChurch, L.A., Contractor, N.S., Niler, A., Mesmer-Magnus, J.R., Plummer, G., & Gomez-Zara, D. (February, 2017). Shared cognition in multiteam systems: A NASA space analog study. Poster presented at the Organization Science Winter Conference, Park City, UT.

DeChurch, L.A., Larson, L., Jones, B., Gomez-Zara, D., & Contractor, N.S. (2017, May). Social identification and leadership emergence within and between teams. Paper presented at the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Leadership Symposium, Mykonos, Greece.

DeChurch, L.A., Mesmer-Magnus, J.R., Niler, A., Plummer, G., Larson, L., & Contractor, N.S. (2017, May). The relative instrumentality of team cognition: A meta-analysis. Poster to be presented at the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology Congress, Dublin, Ireland.

Gómez-Zará, D., Larson, L., Jones, B., DeChurch, L.A., & Contractor, N.S. (2017, July). Leadership and Followership Emergence in NASA Space Crews. Poster presented at the Web Science Summer School 2017, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Johnson, J.C., Zurek, M., Contractor, N.S., & DeChurch, L.A. (May, 2017). Team dynamics in spaceflight analogs: Shared mental models, informal social roles, and team viability and conflict in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). Paper to be presented at the Sunbelt Social Network Analysis Conference, China.

Twyman, M., DeChurch, L., & Contractor, N. (June, 2017). Using a network approach for modeling shared cognition of astronaut teams. Poster to be presented at NetSci 2017 International School and Conference on Network Science, Indianapolis, IN.



Leslie DeChurch (PI), Noshir Contractor

SONIC Team Members:

Diego Gómez-Zará, Mike SchultzMarlon Twyman