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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Cognitive Deficits Induced by 56fe Radiation Exposure

Authors
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Casadesus, Gemma - HNRC
item Castelvetri, Ippolita - HNRC
item Rabin, Bernard - UMBC
item Joseph, James

Submitted to: Advances in Space Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 31, 2002
Publication Date: January 31, 2003
Citation: Shukitt-Hale, B., Casadesus, G., Cantuti-Castelvetri, I., Rabin, B.M., and Joseph, J.A. Cognitive deficits induced by 56Fe radiation exposure. Adv. Space Res. 2003, 31: 119-126.

Interpretive Summary: Exposing rats to radiation particles disrupts the systems in the brain and the behaviors mediated by these systems. These adverse behavioral and brain effects are similar to those seen in aged animals. Because learning and memory declines with age, and our previous study showed that radiation disrupted one type of learning, i.e., the Morris water maze which measures spatial learning and memory performance, the present study used another test, the 8-arm radial maze (RAM) to further test the consequences of radiation exposure on memory. Control rats or rats exposed to radiation particles were tested nine months following exposure. Radiation adversely affected RAM performance, and the changes seen were similar to those seen in aging. Irradiated animals made less correct choices, made their first error sooner, and also tended to make more errors overall. These results show that radiation produces age-like decrements in memory behavior that may impair the ability of astronauts to perform critical tasks during long-term space travel beyond the magnetosphere.

Technical Abstract: Exposing rats to particles of high energy and charge (e.g., 56Fe) disrupts neuronal systems and the behaviors mediated by them; these adverse behavioral and neuronal effects are similar to those seen in aged animals. Because cognition declines with age, and our previous study showed that radiation disrupted Morris water maze spatial learning and memory performance, the present study used an 8-arm radial maze (RAM) to further test the cognitive behavioral consequences of radiation exposure. Control rats or rats exposed to whole-body irradiation with 1.0 Gy of 1 GeV/n high-energy 56Fe particles (delivered at the alternating gradient synchrotron at Brookhaven National Laboratory) were tested nine months following exposure. Radiation adversely affected RAM performance, and the changes seen parallel those of aging. Irradiated animals entered baited arms during the first 4 choices significantly less than did controls, produced their first error sooner, and also tended to make more errors as measured by re-entries into non-baited arms. These results show that irradiation with high-energy particles produces age-like decrements in cognitive behavior that may impair the ability of astronauts to perform critical tasks during long-term space travel beyond the magnetosphere.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014