OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Psychomotor Performance Tradeoffs in Crew Members on a NASA Analog Mission


Authors: Raechel Marino, Alana Muller, Maynori Hinton, Roman Lopez, Weiwei Zhang, Richard Addante In extreme environments such as long duration space flights, if a lapse of attention occurs or short-term memory fails while performing strenuous physical tasks (such as space walks), the results could be potentially catastrophic. Because a majority of astronaut tasks require successfully integrating effortful cognitive and physical tasks, success will depend upon developing countermeasures for such cognitive resource depletion. The optimal place to study these factors in environments and conditions analogous to space, and with the same populations of astronauts, is the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission, which houses astronauts in an undersea capsule for two weeks of diving operations. The current project’s purpose is to measure the interactions of physical exertion and cognitive deficits that are poorly understood and rarely measured concurrently in elite populations of astronauts. Our aims are to 1) assess the relationship of cognitive and physical workloads, using grip strength dynamometer and laptop tests of core cognitive function of attention& distraction using an Erickson Flanker Task; 2) directly test the competition for shared cognitive resources between physical effort and cognitive load in astronaut populations at NEEMO; and 3) assess the impact on cognition and behavioral health that operational workload imposes by way of extra-vehicular activities (EVAs), testing motor and cognitive loads after EVAs. These brain and psychological states can then be mitigated by countermeasures of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) or behavioral intervention therapies to inform readiness of optimal (and sub-optimal) states to perform important operational tasks.

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