The overarching objective of the research is to address the NSBRI Neurobehavioral and Psychosocial Factors goal to “Refine entirely non-obtrusive objective means of detecting and mitigating cognitive performance deficits, stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression for the operational setting of spaceflight”, and in doing so, provide an effective method to predict, detect, and assess decrements in behavioral health and fatigue (which may negatively affect performance) during spaceflight missions. Astronauts must maintain high-level performance while experiencing demanding workload/work schedules, extreme environmental risks, and psychosocial stressors in space (e.g., isolation, confinement). Stress, negative emotions and fatigue can jeopardize their cognitive performance, behavioral health and interpersonal functioning.
We seek to mitigate these behavioral health risks by developing an objective, unobtrusive optical computer recognition (OCR) technology that provides early detection of facial expressions of stress, negative moods and fatigue during spaceflight. To accomplish this, we have been developing (Dr. Metaxas Lab) and validating (Dr. Dinges Lab) a computational model-based tracker of the human face that reliably identifies when astronauts are displaying facial signs of stress, various emotional expressions and ocular signs of fatigue from sleep loss during spaceflight. The project deliverable will be a software OCR algorithm integrated with spacecraft video cameras that provides feedback to astronauts and flight physicians for autonomous selection of countermeasures for stress, negative affect and fatigue. Such a deliverable will help close related risk gaps from the NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Behavioral Health and Performance (BHP) areas by (1) finding an effective method to predict, detect, and assess decrements in behavioral health (which may negatively affect performance) during spaceflight missions (BMed2); and (2) finding an effective tool to detect and assess performance decrements due to fatigue (Sleep1).
A preliminary evaluation of the OCR technology will be conducted in NASA???s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) at Johnson Space Center. The HERA facility is a space analog environment in which astronauts and astronaut-surrogates can live and work in the presence of potential spaceflight stressors (i.e., confinement, isolation, etc.).