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Evaluation of vestibular dysfunction induced by a long-term stay in the ISS (Labyrinth)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Sensorimotor Adaptation Team
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The vestibular system is situated in the inner ear and comprises two components: the otolith organs, which perceive linear accelerations (gravity) and the semicircular canals, which perceive angular accelerations (rotational movements). The vestibular system sends neural signals to the central nervous system, and regulates posture, eye movements, arterial pressure, and muscle-bone relationship. However, it is known that the vestibular system is highly plastic.

Spaceflight may differentially affect gravity and rotation sensors, given the input to the gravity sensor becomes zero but input to the rotation sensor is preserved in space. To examine this, gravity and rotation sensor function will be separately evaluated before and after the ISS mission, and these functions will be correlated to body balance impairment.

These studies are important, because the impaired vestibular system may relate spaceflight-induced medical problems such as gravity sickness, impaired body balance, orthostatic hypotension, and muscle and bone atrophy. To examine mechanisms of spaceflight-induced medical problems, investigators separately evaluate otolith and canal functions, and test whether weak galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) can ameliorate an impaired vestibular function. The purpose of the research is to evaluate otolith and canal functions separately and to correlate those functions to body balance impairment. Additionally, the effect of weak-noise-GVS on body balance will be examined.

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Vestibular function tests
Space motion sickness (SMS)
Eye movements

Cervical Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials cVEMP
Eye movement
Galvanic vestibular stimulation
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 54 12/14/2017 02/27/2018 75 days
Expedition 55 02/27/2018 06/03/2018 96 days
Expedition 58 12/18/2018 03/14/2019 85 days
Expedition 59 03/14/2019 06/24/2019 102 days
Expedition 60 06/24/2019 10/03/2019 101 days
Expedition 61 10/03/2019 02/06/2020 126 days
Expedition 62 02/06/2020 04/17/2020 70 days
Expedition 63 04/17/2020 10/21/2020 187 days
Expedition 64 10/21/2020 In progress

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source