To measure the impact of typical spaceflight stressors like microgravity, radiation, confinement and isolation, exposure to elevated levels of CO2, and sleep loss) on cognitive performance of astronauts, the cognitive test battery has been recently developed.
This computer-based test, developed by Penn Medicine researchers, has already been tested by astronauts on Earth. It will be performed for the first time in a pilot study on the International Space Station (ISS) on November 28.
Mathias Basner, assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in Psychiatry, said that cognition addresses, among other areas, spatial orientation, emotion recognition, and risk decision making, which they believe are essential for the success of exploration-type space missions.
The team chose tests with well-validated testing principles and whose link to cerebral networks has already been established with functional neuroimaging, such as MRI. The tests were then optimized for astronauts.
The team generated 15 unique versions of the 10 tests to allow for repeated administration in spaceflight.
Cognition has been currently administered through a series of tasks via laptops and tablets. Penn researchers were recently tasked to generate a Standardized Behavioral Measures Tool for NASA's Behavioral Health and Performance program that will include Cognition.