COGIMIR — How to Measure Cognitive Functions in Space
Every survey of research programs and publications in the field of life science space research of the past two decades shows a heavy bias towards bioengineering and medical sciences. Thus, mental, emotional, and cognitive studies of space flights have been neglected or at least postponed to investigations of vestibular functions, bodily fluids, or altered sensorimotor control, just to mention some common topics . However, visits in outer space are endowed with some interesting psychological aspects, and they may also induce a number of changes in behaviour and cognition . It is also evident that the intactness of cognitive functions like attention, memory or visuospatial processing plays a vital and essential role in control and research activities of every space personnel. The exact reason why cognitive studies have been largely abandonned is unclear. One assumption is that psychological data are widely considered “soft” as compared to blood pressure values, electromyographic curves or laboratory data; a second that psychological models seem highly theoretical to researchers in biology and medicine. COGIMIR, a part of the cooperative AUSTROMIR project has been developed by Austrian and Russian neuroscientists with the aim of studying higher cognitive functions by means of “hard”, computer based measurements. This paper describes the research guidelines, technical methodology, the experiment’s procedure and some results of the COGIMIR study to demonstrate that exact monitoring of even elaborate cognitive functions is possible during space flights, even with a relatively simple technical equipment, in short time and at moderate cost.
KeywordsLyme Disease Motion Sickness Space Flight High Cognitive Function Cognitive Study
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