#063: IARPA – Tax Dollars, Sci-Fi Goals, And Your Brain

February 05, 2015

For Episode #63, we’re granted insight into the United States Intelligence Community by way of Dr. Adam Russell of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA for short).  As Program Manager of the SHARP Program – which stands for Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-Solving – Dr. Russell aims to uncover the most effective methods to optimize human performance and productivity in information-rich, high-stress environments.

The benefits of this program, not just to high-performing individuals working in cognitively-demanding environments, but society in general, could be huge.  So, this episode will serve as our introduction to SHARP in the first instance, and we’ll check in again with Dr. Russell as it draws to a close to get some inside intel on the program’s results. Stay tuned!

We’ll also learn about how regular alcohol consumption may affect the brains of men and women quite differently, and find out a simple, science-backed method to boost creativity.

Key Terms Mentioned

Show Notes
  • 00:00:33

    Introduction to Dr. Adam Russell and IARPA

  • 00:01:48

    This Week in Neuroscience: Heavy Drinking Is Toxic To The Brains Of Men, But Not Those Of Women

  • 00:03:48

    iTunes review thank-you and Water Fast Week Update

  • 00:05:06

    Jesse's shares a "pot story" he was reminded of on the back of Episode 61: In Defense Of Marijuana?

  • 00:06:56

    What SHARP is all about, fluid intelligence, and Episode 29: Dan Hurley And The New Science Of Building Brain Power

  • 00:08:05

    What is IARPA, and the difference between fundamental and basic research

  • 00:10:25

    How programs like SHARP approved, and IARPA's Heilmeier Questions

  • 00:14:05

    Short time horizons and the importance of rigorous program requirements

  • 00:15:28

    What SHARP is trying to achieve, the difference between fluid and crystallized intelligence, and research breakthroughs on far transfer

  • 00:18:43

    Methods used in the program: mindfulness, brain training (not "brain-games”), transcranial stimulation, exercise

  • 00:22:13

    Convergent validity and how SHARP's success is measured: fMRI, EEG, VO2 max testing

  • 00:23:16

    What a day in the SHARP lab looks like, and null results from an oxytocin study conducted by IARPA

  • 00:26:22

    "The principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

  • 00:27:50

    What would be a definitive success for SHARP?

  • 00:30:11

    Reasons for the length and phasic set-up of the program

  • 00:32:47

    Sneak preview of our IARPA follow-up episode

  • 00:33:56

    Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: Want to Be More Creative? Take a Walk

  • 00:36:42

    Our Valentine's Day episode... viewer discretion advised!

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