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Bed Rest as a Spaceflight Analog to Study Neurocognitive Changes: Extent, Longevity, and Neural Bases (NCC958SA02802)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The objective of this experiment is to determine the effects of an analog of long-duration space flight on neural structural alterations and assess associated impacts on cognitive and behavioral performance. This experiment proposes to perform structural and functional MR brain imaging (fMRI)to identify the relationship between changes in participants neurocognitive function and neural structural alterations following 60 days of head-down tilt bed rest. The central hypotheses are that measures of brain structure, function, and network integrity will change from pre to post bed rest to a greater extent than in control participants over the same time period.

Specific Aim 1: It is predicted that these changes will correlate with indices of cognitive, sensory, and motor function in a structurally selective fashion.

Specific Aim 2: This work complements the ongoing NASA funded flight study, NNX11AR02G “Space flight Effects on Neurocognitive Performance: Extent, Longevity, and Neural Bases”. The current proposal will be able to determine the neural and neurocognitive effects of unloading, reduced sensory inputs, and increased cephalic fluid distribution. This enables the parsing out of multiple mechanisms contributing to any space flight induced neural structural and behavioral changes that are observed.

This is an interdisciplinary approach which utilizes cutting edge neuro-imaging techniques and a broad battery of sensory, motor, and cognitive assessments to investigate neuroplastic and maladaptive brain changes following long- duration bed rest. Success in this endeavor would 1) aid in identification of the underlying neural mechanisms and operational risks of space flight-induced changes in behavior using a well-established space flight analog, and 2) identify whether a return to normative behavioral function following recovery from prolonged bed rest is associated with a restitution of brain structure and function or instead is supported by substitution with compensatory brain processes.

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Koppelmans V, Erdeniz B, De Dios YE, Wood SJ, Reuter-Lorenz PA, Kofman I, Bloomberg JJ, Mulavara AP, and Seidler RD. Study protocol to examine the effects of spaceflight and a spaceflight analog on neurocognitive performance: extent, longevity, and neural bases. BMC Neurology. 2013. December 18; 13:205. []

Koppelmans V, Pasternak O, Bloomberg JJ, Dios YE, Wood SJ, Riascos R, Reuter-Lorenz PA, Kofman IS, Mulavara AP, and Seidler RD. Intracranial fluid redistribution but no white matter microstructural changes during a spaceflight analog. Science Report. 2017. June 9; 7(1):3154.

Bed rest
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in Progress. Some restricted access data exist for this experiment.
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Behavioral assessment
Computerized dynamic posturography - CDP
Diffusion tensor imaging - DTI
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Campaign 11 05/11/2011 12/15/2014 3 years, 7 months, 4 days

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
Institutional Support
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)
Alternate Experiment Name
Neural Bases
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA