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Human Research Program

Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) on ISS

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The Psychomotor Vigilance (PVT) Self Test (operational name on International Space Station (ISS) is Reaction Self Test (RST)) is intended to provide astronauts in spaceflight with objective feedback on neurobehavioral changes in vigilant attention, psychomotor speed, state stability, and impulsivity while on ISS missions, as well as recording their subjective ratings of workload, sleep timing and quality, tiredness, fatigue, and stress. The PVT Self Test is suited for repeated use in spaceflight because unlike other cognitive tests, it is very brief (less than 5 minutes) while being free of learning effects and aptitude differences that make interpretation of other cognitive measures difficult.

Our initial Reaction Self Test study evaluated 24 astronauts, before, during, and after 6-month missions on the International Space Station (ISS). A total of 2,856 RST evaluations were obtained from 21 astronauts participating in 6-month ISS missions.

To determine whether there were continuing changes in Reaction Self Test outcomes for ISS missions greater than 6-month duration, a study was conducted on the RST outcomes of N=2 participants in the initial 1-year mission (i.e., one US astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut). The following are the objectives (specific aims) of the project for the 1-year mission. The US astronaut and Russian cosmonaut were evaluated within the 1-year mission, and relative to data from the N=21 astronauts in 6-month missions.

1) Evaluate whether there were changes in sleep duration and/or sleep quality within the 1-year mission (i.e., first 6 months compared to the second 6 months of the 1-year mission), and differences in these outcomes between the 1-year and 6-month missions.

2) Evaluate whether there were changes in psychomotor speed, performance lapses, and premature responses on the Brief Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT-B) within the 1-year mission (i.e., first 6 months compared to the second 6 months of the 1-year mission), and differences in these outcomes between the 1-year and 6-month missions.

3) Evaluate whether there were changes in subjective ratings of sleepiness, fatigue, tiredness, physical exhaustion, workload, and stress within the 1-year mission (i.e., first 6 months compared to the second 6 months of the 1-year mission), and differences in these outcomes between the 1-year and 6-month missions.

4) To investigate changes in the intake of caffeine and medications within the 1-year mission (i.e., first 6 months compared to the second 6 months of the 1-year mission), and differences in these outcomes between the 1-year and 6-month missions.

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