Individualized Real-Time Neurocognitive Assessment Toolkit for Space Flight Fatigue (Cognition) - 08.05.15

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Individualized Real-Time Neurocognitive Assessment Toolkit for Space Flight Fatigue (Cognition) is a battery of tests that measure how spaceflight-related physical changes, such as microgravity and lack of sleep, can affect cognitive performance. Cognition includes ten brief computerized tests that cover a wide range of cognitive functions, and provides immediate feedback on current and past test results. The software allows for real-time measurement of cognitive performance while in space.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Mathias Basner, Ph.D., M.D., MSc, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Cognition

Principal Investigator(s)
Mathias Basner, Ph.D., M.D., MSc, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
David F. Dinges, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Ruben Gur, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Daniel Mollicone, Ph.D., Pulsar Informatics, Philadelphia, PA, United States

Developer(s)
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2014 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
41/42,43/44,45/46,47/48

Previous ISS Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Given the breadth of neurocognitive functions required for effective performance in space, the need to medically manage sleep and fatigue in space, the very limited neurocognitive assessment tools currently in space flight, and the often anecdotal nature of cognitive complaints from space flight, there is a critical need for rapid objective assessment of a range of neurocognitive performance functions in space flight.
  • This project seeks to achieve this goal by developing a much-needed practical, yet comprehensive cognitive test battery; validating its sensitivity to fatigue and fatigue countermeasures; determining astronaut norms for the test battery; and establishing space-flight feasibility of the battery.
  • The result will be a software-based Neurocognitive Assessment Toolkit for Spaceflight (Cognition) that permits rapid, real-time measurement of astronaut cognitive performance across a much broader range of neurocognitive functions than can be currently assessed in space.

Description

Human exploration of space requires astronauts to maintain a high level of effective cognitive performance in the presence of a range of fatigue-related conditions associated with perturbations of sleep and circadian neurobiology, excessive cognitive and physical workloads (e.g., EVAs), and environmental stressors (e.g., CO2, hypoxia , radiation). It is unknown to what extend fatigue is a result of (or interacts with) other occult neurobehavioral risks in space flight (e.g., reports of cognitive space fog; symptom reports of neurasthenia (nervous exhaustion); visual field deficits from papilledema (edema of the optic disk) and/or the possibility of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) in space). Given the breadth of neurocognitive functions required for effective performance in space, the need to medically manage sleep and fatigue in space, the very limited neurocognitive assessment tools currently in space flight, and the often anecdotal nature of cognitive complaints from space flight, there is a critical need for rapid objective assessment of a range of neurocognitive performance functions in space flight. This project achieves this goal by developing a much-needed practical, yet comprehensive cognitive test battery; validating its sensitivity to fatigue and fatigue countermeasures; determining astronaut norms for the test battery; and establishing space-flight feasibility of the battery. The result is a software-based Neurocognitive Assessment Toolkit for Spaceflight (Cognition) that permits rapid, real-time measurement of astronaut cognitive performance across a much broader range of neurocognitive functions than can be currently assessed in space.

 

Cognition Test Battery Description
The Cognition battery is a 20-30 minute computerized test battery of cognitive tests. Besides a sleep questionnaire and brief subjective evaluations at the beginning, Cognition contains the following 10 tests (each test is mentioned with the primary cognitive domains covered):

  1. Motor Praxis (MPraxis): Sensory-motor ability
  2. Visual Object Learning (VOLT): Visual object learning and memory
  3. Fractal 2-Back (F2B): Attention and working memory
  4. Abstract Matching Task (AMT): Abstraction
  5. Line Orientation (LOT): Spatial orientation
  6. Emotion Recognition (ER): Emotion recognition
  7. Matrix Reasoning (MRsT): Abstract reasoning
  8. Digit Symbol Substitution (DSST): Complex scanning, visual tracking, attention
  9. Balloon Analog Risk (BART): Risk decision making
  10. Psychomotor Vigilance (PVT): Vigilant attention and psychomotor speed.

 

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Applications

Space Applications
While living and working in orbit, astronauts must be able to perform complex tasks despite fatigue and stress. Cognition provides a way to test crew members’ cognitive performance by using a battery of tests. The experiment validates the sensitivity of the battery to fatigue and its effectiveness for use in space. Future missions could use Cognition software to measure crew members’ performance more effectively than current tests.

Earth Applications
Cognition includes a wide range of computerized cognitive tests, which could be used in a variety of situations on Earth. The tests could determine whether fatigue or other stress factors are compromising a person’s ability to think and act clearly. The tests are brief and can be completed on a computer in virtually any setting.

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Operations

Operational Requirements
A minimum of 6 ISS crew members are needed as subjects for this experiment. Cognition software is loaded on the subject’s laptop for pre/post-flight testing and on the Human Research Facility Laptops for in-flight testing. The Cognition battery should be performed in the evening within 2 hours of going to bed and with as little distraction as possible. Consumption of caffeine and medications potentially influencing performance will be recorded by the software prior to the start of each test battery. Pre- and post-flight data is uploaded to the PI’s secure website after test completion. In-flight data will be downlinked within a week of each test session.

Operational Protocols
Cognition is completed 11 times in-flight. For a six month mission, the first 4 tests are completed weekly and the remaining tests are completed once every few weeks. For a one year mission, the first test is completed on FD 6 and subsequent tests are performed at 34 day intervals All testing occurs on the Human Research Facility Laptops and data is downlinked within a week of each session.

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Neuropsychiatry Section of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Psychiatry
Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
NSBRI

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Imagery

image
Each of the icons represents one of the 10 Cognition tests (starting at top left): Motor Praxis, Visual Object Learning, Fractal 2-Back, Abstract Matching, Line Orientation, Emotion Recognition, Matrix Reasoning, Digit Symbol Substitution, Balloon Analog Risk, Psychomotor Vigilance.

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