This study will determine the predictive validity of a set of relevant, valid and reliable biomarkers for various neurobehavioral outcomes for distinguishing those who are more resilient versus those who are more susceptible to the adverse effects of the combination of high performance stress and acute sleep loss—two conditions commonly experienced in space flight. The deliverable will be the development of a countermeasure (set of biomarkers) to provide mission planners and system developers with individualized strategies for crew resources, and for mitigating stress and other behavioral health and performance risks during short-duration and long-duration space flight.
Neurobehavioral decrements in space flight are due to operational and physiological stress related to fatiguing workload and work schedules (e.g., slam shifts), and to reduced sleep quality and duration. Sleep loss produces fatigue, variability in behavioral alertness, deficits in attention, memory and executive functions, reduced mood-affect regulation, and ultimately increased accidents and injuries. Stress is also associated with neurobehavioral changes. Increased workload and performance demands (i.e., more difficult cognitive tasks, with greater time pressure and with negative feedback on performance) produce higher ratings of stress, task difficulty, effort required, frustration, distress, and total mood disturbance.
- Determine whether candidate biomarkers, including cardiovascular measures, change in response to high performance demands and acute sleep loss stressors.
- Evaluate the predictive validity of a set of candidate biomarkers, including cardiovascular measures, for neurobehavioral susceptibility to the stressors in Aim 1.
- Identify candidate biomarkers that differentiate susceptible and resilient individuals in responses to the stressors in Aim 1.
- Determine the stability of candidate biomarkers from pre-mission to in-mission baseline and from in-mission recovery to post-mission.
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Investigators will conduct a ground-based experiment on N=32 healthy men and women (ages 26-55) in NASA's Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility (short-duration analog) and on N=6 healthy men and women (ages 21-65) in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) facility (long-duration analog) to determine the predictive validity of a set of relevant, valid, and reliable biomarkers for distinguishing those who are more resilient versus those who are more susceptible to the adverse neurobehavioral effects of the combination of high performance demands and total sleep deprivation (TSD) stressors—two conditions commonly experienced in space flight. These biomarkers include the following: cardiovascular measures (blood pressure, heart rate and heart rate variability, stroke volume and cardiac output), salivary cortisol, catecholamines (dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline), an inflammatory marker (C Reactive Protein; CRP), metabolomic markers (via unbiased metabolomics), and microRNAs (epigenetic markers). The project deliverable will be a countermeasure (set of diverse biomarkers) for distinguishing those who are more resilient versus those who are more susceptible to the adverse neurobehavioral effects of high performance demands and sleep loss stressors. If valid markers of such susceptibility can be found, it will be possible to optimize and individualize crew resources, and mitigate stress and other behavioral health and performance risks autonomously during long-duration space flight.
The neurobehavioral testing that subjects will perform will consist of tests measuring reaction
time, memory and subjective scales measuring sleepiness, fatigue, vigor and mood (Profile of Mood States, Visual Analog Scale, and Karolinska Sleepiness Scale). In addition, subjects will wear an actiwatch for the duration of the mission to monitor sleep-wake behavior. Subjects wear the actiwatch 24 hours a day (i.e., day and night) except when showering.
This study is in progress. However, preliminary results regarding data collection are available.
Investigators have successfully integrated the complex, multifaceted five-day stress and sleep loss experiment into HERA. They have successfully collected data in the first three missions of 2015 (N=12 subjects). This includes the following biomarkers: blood markers from six time points in 12 subjects (72 blood markers); 2 saliva markers each from six time points in 12 subjects (144 saliva markers); blood pressure markers from six time points in 12 subjects (72 blood pressure markers); stroke volume from six time points in 12 subjects (72 stroke volume markers); cardiac output from six time points in 12 subjects (72 cardiac output markers); and heart rate from six time points in 12 subjects. [70 heart rate markers-- two heart rate monitor data]. The investigators also have 11 neurobehavioral tests for 12 subjects (132 neurobehavioral tests). Finally, they have continuous actigraphy data on N=12 subjects for 14-days each (a total of 168 days of actigraphy).
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health
and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration.
Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity,
and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors,
and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify
the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific
Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.
The Human Research Roadmap is located at: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
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for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.