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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NEUROCOGNITION/NEUROSCIENCE

Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Title: Effects of age on the disruption of cognitive performance by exposure to space radiation

Authors
item Rabin, Bernard M. -
item SHUKITT-HALE, BARBARA
item Carrihill-Knoll, Kirsty L. -

Submitted to: Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 10, 2014
Publication Date: July 18, 2014
Citation: Rabin, B., Shukitt Hale, B., Carrihill-Knoll, K. 2014. Effects of age on the disruption of cognitive performance by exposure to space radiation. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science. 4:297-307.

Interpretive Summary: Exposure to low doses of radiation can cause deficits in brain performance when measured within a short time (1-4 months) following irradiation. The long-term effects of such exposures and their relationship to the short-term effects remain to be established. The present experiment evaluated the effects of exposure to a variety of radioactive particles on memory ability in rats at two time points following irradiation, using a task that measures the animals' ability to recognize novel objects. The results showed that doses of radiation that did not disrupt memory in younger animals, disrupted memory when the subjects were re-tested at an older age. The results indicate that there is no recovery of brain function resulting from the passage of time. Rather, age and the effects of radiation exposure interact, in that a dose of radiation that may not produce an initial effect on cognitive performance may produce an effect as the organism ages.

Technical Abstract: Exposure to low doses of heavy particles and protons can cause deficits in cognitive performance when measured within a short time (1-4 months) following irradiation. The long-term effects of such exposures and their relationship to the short-term effects remain to be established. The present experiment evaluated the effects of exposure to a variety of heavy particles (16O, 12C, 28Si, 48Ti and 56Fe) and protons on recognition memory using the novel object recognition task at two time points following irradiation (up to 17 months following irradiation). The results showed that exposure to doses of radiation that did not disrupt cognitive performance in the younger animals, disrupted performance when the subjects were re-tested at an older age. These results indicate that there is no recovery of cognitive function resulting from the passage of time. Rather, there is an interaction between the age of the organism and the effects of exposure to HZE particles on cognitive performance, such that exposure to doses of HZE particles or protons that may not produce an initial effect on cognitive performance may produce an effect as the organism ages.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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