HERO Twin Astronaut Study Consortium (TASC) Project: Cognition on Monozygotic Twin on Earth (Twins Study - Basner) - 11.22.16
Although identical twins are genetically almost the same, differences in environment, diet, and other outside factors can affect their health in different ways. The Twins Study is an integrated compilation of ten studies at multiple research centers that examines the effects of space travel on twin astronauts, one of whom stays on the International Space Station for one year, while his twin remains on Earth. HERO Twin Astronaut Study Consortium Project: Cognition on Monozygotic Twin on Earth (Twins Study – Basner) studies how one astronaut’s cognitive performance changes in response to exposure to microgravity and the stressful environment of space, how those changes differ from those of his brother on the ground, and how they relate to the various changes noted by other Twins Study investigators. Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending Experiment Details
Mathias Basner, Ph.D., M.D., MSc, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States
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
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration, Scientific Discovery
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015
- The Twins Study provides the extraordinary opportunity to control variables of individual genetic differences, susceptibilities and lifestyle factors, making differential effects observed between the twins spaceflight-specific.
- Successful spaceflight exploration depends on the integrity of a range of cognitive abilities, but knowledge on the cognitive effects of prolonged exposure to the spaceflight environment is very limited.
- The HERO Twin Astronaut Study Consortium Project: Cognition on Monozygotic Twin on Earth (Twins Study – Basner) study investigates how an astronaut's cognitive performance changes in response to acute and prolonged exposure to microgravity and other spaceflight stressors, as well as to the return to Earth, and whether these changes differ relative to his twin brother and relative to normative data derived from other astronauts.
- The investigators also seek to establish whether changes in cognitive performance are related to physiological, molecular, genetic, and biochemical changes investigated in the other Twin Study projects.
Spaceflight causes several physiological and cognitive changes in humans, some of which could impact the health of crew members on long-duration missions. This investigation studies changes in cognitive function that occur during a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, and contrasts them with the normal cognitive changes that take place in an identical twin living on Earth. The investigation also studies how changes in cognition may be related to spaceflight-caused differences in metabolism, gastrointestinal microorganisms, the immune system, and genetics. Results are expected to improve the understanding of how humans adapt to spaceflight and could lead to better countermeasures to protect crew health.
Results from this investigation could provide a new understanding of how extended exposure to environmental stressors can cause changes in cognitive ability and how those changes relate to the gastrointestinal microbe community, as well as to immune function, metabolism, and genetics. This information may prove useful in the development of new treatments and preventive measures for related health issues on Earth.
Operational Requirements and Protocols
Decadal Survey Recommendations
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Main Twins Study