Dr. Steven Moore and colleagues are developing a system that replicates sensorimotor deficits astronauts often experience after returning to normal gravity. These deficits can impair an astronaut???s ability to control a vehicle, exit a vehicle, and walk and perform other normal tasks. The system uses Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS) which induces sensorimotor deficits by delivering a small electrical current through electrodes placed behind the ear. The current interferes with the nerve signals sent from the balance organs in the middle ear to the brain.
The goal is to develop protocols that utilize the GVS system as a training tool for astronauts to better adapt to a new gravity environment. The researchers tested the system???s ability to accurately model post-flight sensorimotor deficits and simulate deficits during vehicle landing operations, as well as the system???s ability to induce sensorimotor deficits in users who have gone through multiple GVS sessions.
A follow-up project will continue development of the GVS as an operational simulation for spaceflight training. The research has potential benefits for people on Earth with balance disorders and aircraft pilots who are at risk from suffering spatial disorientation.