SLINK: move Short bLind plus shrink - Moving blind and throwing an imagery ball (Blind and Imagined) - 04.04.18

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The MOVE SB (Movement in Orbital Vehicle Experiments Short and Blind) and SHRINK (Space Height Reference In Non-gravitational Kinetics) Investigations, collectively known as Blind and Imagined, are a series of tests crewmembers perform on the International Space Station to test their physical senses. Crewmembers move their arms and hands, and then imagine themselves throwing a ball on Earth and in microgravity, while cameras record their movement. The results will help scientists study the sensory and motor changes that take place in the unique environment of space.
Science Results for Everyone
Initiation of this investigation has been affected by the loss of the Orbital-3 launch vehicle and mission in October 2014.

The following content was provided by Alessandra L. Pedrocchi, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Blind and Imagined

Principal Investigator(s)
Alessandra L. Pedrocchi, NEARlab - NeuroEngineering And medical Robotics Laboratory, Bioengineering Dept., Milano, Italy

Giancarlo Ferrigno, Ph.D., Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy
Claudia Casellato, NEARlab - NeuroEngineering And medical Robotics Laboratory, Milano, Italy
Myrka Zago, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
Silvio Gravano, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy
Barbara La Scaleia, Fondazione Santa Lucia, IRCCS, Rome, Italy
Francesco Lacquaniti, M.D., University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

Kayser Italia Srl., Livorno, Italy

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Italian Space Agency (ASI)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2014 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
MOVE protocol has been performed by two astronauts (Increments 16 and 17) and is going to be carried out by another one (Incr. 34). IMAGINE and IMAGINE2 protocols have been performed by 6 astronauts 1 scheduled for Incr. 34.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Understanding sensori-motor adaptation and sensory feedback roles allows diagnostic procedures to be developed for astronauts when they return from space may become important for use by major medical centers to diagnose and treat patients suffering vestibular diseases, stroke, Parkinson’s,  and other disorders of the central nervous system. In addition, the quantification of sensori-motor adaptation is key to develop appropriate countermeasures for space missions.
  • Movement in Orbital Vehicle Experiments Short and Blind (MOVE SB)  aims to evaluate the modifications of whole-body voluntary motor functionstrategies in the microgravity  environment.Specifically, MOVE SB focuses  on the adaptation process to microgravity, the role of visual feedback in adaptation, and  the exchange points between the muscular-skeletal system and the environment in the motor control.
  • MOVE SB collects new data similar to those already collected during the MOVE protocol with ELaboratore Immagini TElevisive - Space 2 (ELITE-S2), where the vision role is investigated explicitly. This data enriches the  data set  obtained on two (+ one planned for Inc 33-34) crewmembers performing the MOVE protocol,  to better evaluate  the results obtained, and further the analysis of the drawn conclusions (very limited if the number of subjects is small). Specific analysis of the role of vision in controlling the execution of complex motor tasks is included in the comparison between eyes open and eyes closed experiments.
  • The Space Height Reference In Non-gravitational Kinetics (SHRINK) protocol evaluates the hypothesis that microgravity environment induces a contraction of the perceived size of space and/or body size.
  • SHRINK collects additional data to those already collected during the Imagery of object Motion Affected by Gravity in null gravity Experiments for ELITE-S2 (IMAGINE/IMAGINE2) protocol with ELITE-S2. The bulk of IMAGINE/IMAGINE2 data indicates that subjects are able to mentally simulate the relationship between imagined ball motion speed (V) and motion duration (T) in microgravity conditions. This T-V relationship was well obeyed both on ground and in-flight.  Experimental data had showed a reduction of perceived vertical environmental metrics both on ground and in microgravity condition with a stronger reduction in microgravity during an interceptive task. Current experiments will address the issue of whether this space-reference reduction is involved only in the vertical axis (gravity related direction) or the contraction of the perceived size is isometric.


The two protocols aim at collecting data of the sensory and motor impacts due to the immersion in a completely new environment. SHRINK focuses on the perception aspects, while MOVE SB on the motor aspects.

The ELITE-S2 cameras, equipped with infrared illuminator devices, illuminate the volume and retroflective markers movement is captured and computed in real time by the image processing device (on-chip marker barycentre computation algorithms).

The markers attached to the crewmember’s body segments (at specific body landmarks defined by the protocols and visible in figure 1 for MOVE SB and for SHRINK) are simple plastic spheres that are reflective in infra-red and thus detected by the dedicated ELITE S2 TV-based camera system. • Risks inherent in this experiment are minimal, comparable to those that would be faced if the crewmember played with imaginary balls in a room at home. The infra-red ELITE system is routinely used in several laboratories for motion analysis in the world and in clinical settings in hospitals to monitor gait and motor performance in patients, including children.
ELITE-S2 main technical specifications are:
  • sampling rate up to 250Hz
  • resolution CCD 512x512
  • Accuracy <= 1mm on volume 2mx2mx1m
  • Availability of integration with other analogical devices
  • working volume: half body, full body
  • 4 TVc
During performance of the actual experiments (in flight and during baseline data collection on the ground), in addition to ELITE S2 infrared recording of the marker positions on your body, the crewmember’s performance is video-taped with a conventional camcorder. The video tape recordings complements the marker position recordings during off-line scientific analysis. These recordings are used exclusively for scientific data analysis.

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Space Applications
Understanding how the sensory and motor systems adapt to microgravity will improve countermeasures for future space missions, including on-orbit exercises and training designed to maintain muscle and bone mass. Results from this investigation will also improve rehabilitation procedures for crewmembers after they return to Earth.

Earth Applications
Understanding how a person's sensory and motor systems change in new environments could benefit people with neurological disorders or injuries. A better interpretation of how sensory and motor systems adapt to new feedback could improve diagnostics and treatment of a wide range of central nervous system disorders, including stroke, Parkinson's disease, and others. Quantifying sensori-motor adaptation will also improve treatments for patients with limited mobility, such as those on bed rest.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

At least one subject is required.
One in-flight session within about one week from arrival to ISS, a second session is strongly desired during the mission, so as to monitor the adaptation process, from the operative phase (short-term) to a long-term learning.
For each inflight session, data downlink is required.

  • Set-up mounting and demounting (cameras, cables, tool mounting and storing, calibration)
  • Marking
  • Protocols
For SHIRNK: In normal erect posture (aboard the ISS, grasp a support strap with the non-dominant hand). the crewmember flexes ther fingers and curves the palm, resulting in a hemispherical concave posture of the hand. It is important that the crewmember “feels” a grasped ball in the hand. The crewmember is asked to imagine the trajectory of the ball from the release point, to the wall, and back to the hand, and monitor visually what is being done: the crewmember should look at their right arm prior to and during throwing, then looks at the wall in front of them when the virtual ball “hits” against it, and finally looks back at the hand when it intercepts the ball.
General instructions with regards to body posture, visual monitoring and mental imagery of the scene are provided. In “0g” condition, the crewmember holds the imaginary tennis ball as in “1g”, but the ball now is weightless. When the crewmember throws the ball, the crewmember imagines that ball’s motion is uniform (constant speed) throughout. The effects of air resistance are considered negligible for these conditions.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Results Publications

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

    Bosco G, Monache SD, Gravano S, Indovina I, La Scaleia B, Maffei V, Zago M, Lacquaniti F.  Filling gaps in visual motion for target capture. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. 2015 February 23; 9: 17 pp. DOI: 10.3389/fnint.2015.00013.

    Casellato C, Pedrocchi AL, Ferrigno G.  Whole-body movements in long-term weightlessness: Hierarchies of the controlled variables are gravity-dependent. Journal of Motor Behavior. 2016 December 27; 49(5): 568-579. DOI: 10.1080/00222895.2016.1247032. PMID: 28027021.

    Mijatovic A, La Scaleia B, Mercuri N, Lacquaniti F, Zago M.  Familiar trajectories facilitate the interpretation of physical forces when intercepting a moving target. Experimental Brain Research. 2014 August 21; 232(12): 3803-3811. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-014-4050-6.

    Lacquaniti F, Bosco G, Gravano S, Indovina I, La Scaleia B, Maffei V, Zago M.  Multisensory integration and internal models for sensing gravity effects in primates. BioMed Research International. 2014 July; 2014. DOI: 10.1155/2014/615854. PMID: 25061610.

    Lacquaniti F, Bosco G, Gravano S, Indovina I, La Scaleia B, Maffei V, Zago M.  Gravity in the brain as a reference for space and time perception. Multisensory Research. 2015 July 31; 28(5-6): 397-426. DOI: 10.1163/22134808-00002471.

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Related Websites

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image Markers positions during MOVE SB protocol. SHRINK protocol: same markers of MOVE SB protocol + an additional marker on the dominant hand (3rd metacarpus, in the middle of hand dorsum) Image courtesy of HEO.
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image NASA Image: ISS042E016150 - View of a camera set up in the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) in preparation for a Blind and Imagined test run.
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image NASA Image: ISS042E016162 - View of a camera set up in the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) in preparation for a Blind and Imagined test run.
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