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Individualized Real-Time Neurocognitive Assessment Toolkit for Space Flight Fatigue (Cognition)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Technology development
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

This study addressed the goal of developing tools to assess crew performance in real-time and evaluate countermeasures to mitigate the effects of fatigue, circadian misalignment, and work-overload. It is responsive to the critical need to identify how a range of cognitive functions of astronauts can be affected in space flight by fatigue alone, and its interaction with other risk factors and conditions such as elevated carbon dioxide, intracranial pressure, space fog, and countermeasures. This study aimed to deliver a comprehensive, software-based, neurocognitive toolkit (Cognition). By building on state-of-the-art neuropsychological test development, the toolkit permits evaluation of a full range of cognitive functions using brief (1-5 minutes), validated procedures. The tests included, but went beyond, what is currently measured by WinSCAT and the Reaction Self Test on the International Space Station (ISS). Importantly, the toolkit permitted rapid assessment of performance in cognitive, social-emotional, and sensorimotor domains.

This study had the following specific aims:

  1. Development of short-duration adaptive versions of neuropsychological tests for space flight.
  2. Establish learning curves for neuropsychological tests and validate sensitivity to sleep deprivation.
  3. Cognition software development and optimization for space flight.
  4. NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) field testing, astronaut learning curves, and astronaut norms for performance feedback algorithm development.
  5. Complete ISS feasibility study.

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Abe T, Mollicone D, Basner M, and Dinges DF. Sleepiness and safety: Where biology needs technology. Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 2014. April; 12(2):74-84. []

Basner M and Dinges DF. Lost in space: sleep. Lancet Neurology. 2014. September; 13(9):860-2. []

Basner M, Dinges DF, Mollicone DJ, Savelev I, Ecker AJ, Di Antonio A, Jones CW, Hyder EC, Kan K, Morukov BV, and Sutton JP. Psychological and behavioral changes during confinement in a 520-day simulated interplanetary mission to Mars. PLoS One. 2014. March 27; 9(3):e93298. []

Basner M, Rao H, Goel N, and Dinges DF. Sleep deprivation and neurobehavioral dynamics. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2013. October; 23(5):854-63. []

Erin E Flynn-Evans, Alan Kubey, Lorcan Walsh, Joseph M Ronda, Wei Wang, Kenneth P Wright Jr, Charles A Czeisler. Prevalence of sleep deficiency and use of hypnotic drugs in astronauts before, during, and after spaceflight: an observational study. Lancet Neurology. 2014. September; 13(9):904-912.

Goel N, Basner M, Rao H, Dinges DF. Circadian rhythms, sleep deprivation, and human performance. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science. 2013;119:155-90. []

Minkel J, Moreta M, Muto J, Htaik O, Jones C, Basner M, and Dinges D. Sleep deprivation potentiates HPA axis stress reactivity in healthy adults. Health Psychology. 2014. May 12. []

Yi B, Rykova M, Feuerecker M, Jäger B, Ladinig C, Basner M, Hörl M, Matzel S, Kaufmann I, Strewe C, Nichiporuk I, Vassilieva G, Rinas K, Baatout S, Schelling G, Thiel M, Dinges DF, Morukov B, and Choukèr A. 520-d Isolation and confinement simulating a flight to Mars reveals heightened immune responses and alterations of leukocyte phenotype. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2014. August; 40:203-10. []

Basner M, Savitt A, Moore TM, Port AM, McGuire S, Ecker AJ, Nasrini J, Mollicone J, Mott CM, McCann T, Dinges DF, and Gur RC. Development and validation of the Cognition test battery. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 2015. November; 86(11):942-52.

Lee G, Moore TM, Basner M, Nasrini J, Roalf DR, Ruparel K, Port AM, Dinges DF, and Gur RC. Age, sex, and repeated measures effects on NASA's "Cognition" test battery in STEM educated adults. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 2020. January 1;91(1):18-25. [DOI]

Circadian rhythm
Reaction time
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
Data Sets+ Request data

Average response time
Circadian rhythms
Number correct
Number of clicks offs
Number of correct responses
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 42 11/10/2014 03/11/2015 121 days
Expedition 43 03/11/2015 06/10/2015 91 days
Expedition 44 06/10/2015 09/11/2015 93 days
Expedition 45 09/11/2015 12/11/2015 91 days
Expedition 46 12/11/2015 03/02/2016 82 days
Expedition 47 03/02/2016 06/18/2016 108 days
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
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)
Alternate Experiment Name
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
Crew Health NNJ10ZSA003N