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Validation of Assessment Tests and Countermeasures for Detecting and Mitigating Changes in Cognitive Function during Robotics Operations (J08ZSA_7523)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

An effective, safe, well-tolerated, non-invasive countermeasure for circadian- and fatigue-related deficits in cognition is required for use during in space environments to enhance the safety of crewmembers. Light exposure has the potential to fulfill this role. Although monochromatic blue light exposure at night has been shown to be most effective at shifting the circadian pacemaker, and improving alertness and performance, these results have not been tested for broadband blue-enriched white light or for light exposure during the biological day. Before light therapy as fatigue countermeasure is operationalized, further research is required to fully understand the effect on complex performance, such as robotics performance. Similarly, while caffeine use is widespread, including on the International Space Station (ISS), uncontrolled use of caffeine may not be optimally timed or of the correct dose to alleviate sleepiness on duty and may interfere with subsequent sleep, thereby increasing fatigue the next day. The study investigated the effects of light and caffeine as fatigue countermeasures in a controlled environment with the long-term view to developing specialized countermeasure schedules to maximize alertness and performance of space crew in an environment where even small fatigue-related errors could have catastrophic consequences.

The specific aims of this study were to: (1) characterize the changes in performance and mental workload during simulated robotic operations, (2) validate proxy cognitive and drowsiness assessment tests as predictors of performance changes in a complex operational task, and (3) test the efficacy of fatigue countermeasures such as blue enriched white light and caffeine to improve cognition during robotic operations. Initial experiments were to validate robotics training, performance, and mental workload paradigms, and to confirm the relationship between spatial ability tests and performance.

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Liu AM, Oman CM, Galvan R, and Natapoff R. Predicting space telerobotic operator training performance from human spatial ability assessment. Acta Astronautica. 2013. November; 92(1):38-47. [DOI]

Reaction time
Spatial behavior
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in Progress. Some restricted access data exist for this experiment.
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Cognitive function
Cortisol, plasma
Eyelid opening speed
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
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:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)
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Proposal Date
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