Working as a team for the first time presents many challenges. This study presents insights about team performance when looking at team members’ electrical brain wave activity as they work to overcome a series of cognitive challenges. A comparison between a primed group, who had previous experience, and an unprimed group, who did not have previous experience. The primed group overcame the challenges quicker than the unprimed group, and both groups demonstrated unique functions of brainwave activity in specific areas of the brain. The primed group demonstrated better communication skills and more efficient resource allocation than the unprimed group. This higher level of team performance indicates that there are many beneficial aspects of prior teamwork experience.

What is Team Performance?

  • Two or more people completing different tasks while working together to reach a shared goal
  • Functional requirements include resource allocation and prioritization
  • Resource Allocation: Team members working on different tasks simultaneously
    • Effects capability and time indirectly
    • Team members are aiming to complete a task as fast as possible given a set of resources per task
  • Prioritization: The hierarchy of tasks
    • Effects time directly
    • Team members are aiming to reduce their workload and increase the efficiency of tasks at hand


Understanding Resource Allocation:

  • Problems
    • Multiple members in need of the same resource
    • Member using resource inefficiently
      • Resulting in wasted time
  • Solutions
    • Maintain effective communication
      • Encourage team members to talk with one another while completing the tasks
    • Avoid over-utilization
    • Avoid strict hierarchy
      • Some hierarchy is beneficial
      • Encourage flexibility throughout the experiment

Understanding Prioritization:

  •  Problems
    • Unequal workload distribution
      • Some team members have more or less than others
      • Team member with less have highers success rates
    • Lack of Backing up Behavior
      • Team members do not help one another when a member has made a mistake
  • Solutions
    • Resource and Task Allocation
      • Dividing up the task and work to all members
    • Orchestration of Tasks
      • Arranging resource allocations to where individual efforts compliment one another




Equipment Used:

  • Emotiv Headsets
    • These headsets were used to capture the brainwave activity when making a decision and solving problems
  • Recording Software – Three Computers
    • Emotiv
      • A software that showed which parts of the brain were being used when a team member was in the escape room
    • Test Bench
      • A software that showed the actual brainwaves and how they were effected while the team member was in the room
  • Two Cameras
    • Camera One: Stationary and on tripod
    • Camera Two: Stationary and on tripod
    • Camera Three: Multiple Perspective
      • A experimenter was getting close-ups of the team members figuring out the puzzles in the escape room
  • 360 Dimensional Microphone
    • Used to capture the communication between the team members

Data Collection:

  • Experiment took place on February 7th, 2017
  • Location: Mission Escape Atlanta
  • Purpose:
    • Test Hypothesis: A team who has been primed or has experienced the same situation will perform more efficiently than a team who has not been primed

Procedure: Primed Team One

  • A team of six worked together to escape a room filled with overlapping puzzles within a given time limit (one hour)
  • Same team will then work together to escape another room of the same difficulty within the same time limit (one hour)
  • Brain activity was recorded through the use of the headsets and analyzed for further study
  • Complete process was recorded

Procedure: Unprimed Team Two

  • A team of six worked together to escape a room filled with overlapping puzzles within a given time limit (one hour)
  • Brain activity was recorded through the use of the headsets and analyzed for further study
  • Complete process was recorded
  • Primed Team One’s data was compared to Unprimed Team Two’s data




The primed team was able to complete the escape room quicker and in a more efficient manner than Team One. Team Two was able to speak more clearly and communicate better with each other because they were able to learn from their first time in an escape room. They were able to take their first experience and improve upon their skill sets as well as determine which member was best suited for each puzzle. By determining which team member was most skilled for each puzzle, the team was also able to prioritize each puzzle and allocate the correct resources to each of the members resulting in their time in the escape room decreasing. On the other hand, Team Two was also able to complete the escape room, but their time was not as fast as Team One. Team Two had to work through communication barriers as well as learning which puzzles should be done first to minimize their workload. Resource allocation was also difficult for Team Two because one member would not be using the correct resource resulting in another team member having to wait. Team Two was able to complete the escape room, but they were not able to complete the room as quickly as Team One; thus proving the hypothesis that a primed team would be more efficient in the escape room than an unprimed team.

Further data is still being analyzed from the headsets. These headsets map complex interactions inside the brain by measuring signals from multiple cortical (the outer layer of the cerebrum) structures across the entire brain’s surface. Through the use of electrodes (flat metal pieces), the headsets are able to communicate with a person’s brain cells through electrical impulses resulting in what is known as brainwaves. The brainwaves could be seen when using the Test Bench software. Unfortunately, the information and data collected via the headsets throughout this experiment is still being analyzed. Given the amount of team members and the complexity of the brain, more time is needed to best determine how a person’s brainwaves are affected when making a decision and when solving a problem.