A Sankofian appraisal on how to maximize translatability of rodent space radiation/CNS studies to astronauts



There is an ever-growing body of evidence from ground-based rodent studies that space radiation (SR) exposure impairs performance in multiple cognitive processes, ranging from relatively fundamental processes to complex analogs/homologs of human cognitive tasks. The overall consensus is that SR exposure impacts performance in multiple cognitive tasks, utilizing multiple cognitive processes governed by multiple brain regions. The mechanistic basis for the observed SR-induced cognitive impairments, and occasional enhancements, is increasingly being established. Translating the results from ground-based rodent studies into tangible risk estimates for astronauts is an enormous challenge, but NASA has a long history of choosing to do things like  “go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.

The rapidly approaching start of NASA’s second phase of space exploration, that will see the first woman land of the Moon and then the challenging deep space voyage to Mars, necessitates that  during the remaining time research be conducted that maximizes the translatability of ground-based studies to astronauts. Such studies cannot be extended versions of the historical approaches but must embrace new neuroscience concepts.

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