Neuroscience to Help Astronauts in Spaceflight

in Uncategorized
August 28th, 2010

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Have you ever wondered what it feels like to return to Earth after flying around in space? Until now, astronauts in training wondered the same thing.

Upon returning to Earth after spaceflight, astronauts may experience neurological symptoms such as dizziness and loss of balance. In the past, scientists had no way to replicate these symptoms during simulation landings. This raised a concern that although astronauts were capable of landing a spacecraft under normal neurological conditions, they may not be able to with impaired sensory and mobility signals.

Dr. Steven Moore at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York developed a tool to solve this problem. The Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS) system induces sensory and motor disturbances that safely replicate the sensations astronauts experience upon returning to Earth’s atmosphere. This is accomplished by delivering small amounts of electrical simulation to the vestibular nerve of the ear.

To test the effects of GVS, twelve subjects, including NASA and air force pilots, performed simulation landings both with and without stimulation. It was found that landings while under stimulation were outside of the optimal performance range more frequently than those performed under normal conditions. The creators of GVS were happy with this result because it accurately mimicked the effects that occur while returning to Earth.

Not only can NASA benefit from this technology, but military pilots can as well. For the full story, click here.

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