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Otolith Tilt-Translation Reinterpretation (DSO 459)
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The Otolith Tilt-Translation Reinterpretation hypothesized that adaptation to space flight is a function of sensory rearrangement and that signals from the otolith organs during orbital flight are reinterpreted as linear displacements.

An important question relating to this concept concerns the maintenance or substitution by other sensory systems of information to the central nervous system which will replace missing or altered vestibular inputs. Specifically, this study investigated the possibility of neck receptors as substitutes for otolith receptor inputs to maintaining ocular torsion during space flight.

The measurement of ocular torsion is difficult under the best of circumstances. When coupled with the additional constraints imposed by orbital flight, very careful consideration had to be given to the mechanism and procedures that were to be used. The device and procedures had to be simple enough that the experiment could be performed by one crewperson at a time, while meeting size, weight, and safety requirements.

To meet these criteria, a method of measuring ocular torsion first used about 140 years ago was selected. In this method an after-image of a target is formed on the retina. Any eye torsion occurring while the after-image is visible produces a tilting of the after-image relative to an objective reference target.

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Parker DE, Reschke MF, Arrott AP, Homick JL, and Lichtenberg BK. Otolith tilt-translation reinterpretation following prolonged weightlessness: implications for preflight training. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 1985. June; 56(6):601-6. []

Reschke MF, Parker DE, Harm DL, Michaud L. Ground-based training for the stimulus rearrangement encountered during spaceflight. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 1988;460:87-93. []

Eye movements

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Data Information
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Degree of counterrolling
Eye movements
Head tilt position
Neck receptors
Ocular torsion
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
STS-26 09/29/1988 10/03/1988 4 days
STS-28 08/08/1989 08/13/1989 5 days
STS-61C 01/12/1986 01/18/1986 6 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)