In space exploration missions, astronauts experience a series of altered gravity environments to which they must adapt their sensorimotor systems. While all astronauts eventually adapt, there appear to be large differences between individuals in how quickly and effectively adaptation occurs, which are poorly understood. Being able to predict these differences is critical to help develop personalized training countermeasures and reduce the likelihood sensorimotor impairment impacts mission success and safety.
Dr. Torin K. Clark and colleagues aim to better understand and predict individual differences in sensorimotor adaptation to altered gravity. Specifically, the researchers will test if an individual’s perceptual thresholds (i.e. how small of a motion stimulus can be correctly identified as being motion to the left or right), which are a measure of sensory noise, can predict their adaptation capacity. It is believed that higher sensory noise levels may slow adaptation because the brain cannot as easily distinguish changes in the environment that require adaptation.