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Title: Acute effects of exposure to space radiation on CNS function and cognitive performance

item RABIN, BERNARD - University Of Maryland
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item CARRIHILL-KNOLL, KIRSTY - University Of Maryland
item BIELINSKI, DONNA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item POULOSE, SHIBU - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item HEROUX, NICHOLAS - University Of Maryland
item BAXTER, CHELSEA - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/25/2014
Publication Date: 11/15/2014
Citation: Rabin, B.M., Shukitt Hale, B., Carrihill-Knoll, K.L., Bielinski, D.F., Poulose, S.M., Heroux, N.A., Baxter, C. 2014. Acute effects of exposure to space radiation on CNS function and cognitive performance. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings. 2014. Program #559.13.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: On exploratory class missions, such as a mission to Mars, astronauts will be exposed to types and doses of radiation (cosmic rays) that are not experienced in low earth orbit where the Space Shuttle and International Space Station operate. Exposure to cosmic rays produces changes in neuronal function and in cognitive performance. While the changes in neuronal function are observed as shortly as 36 hr following irradiation, it is not known whether or not there are similar acute effects of exposure on cognitive performance and how the behavioral changes may relate to the changes in neuronal function. The present experiment was designed to determine the acute effects of exposure to space radiation on cognitive performance (novel object recognition) and the relationship to radiation-induced changes in neuronal function. Conditioning occurred either 3-6 hr before (memory) or 18 hr after (learning) exposure to 56Fe or 16O particles (600 MeV/n). Exposure to either particle disrupted the recall of a previously acquired task (memory), but did not affect the acquisition (learning) of the task. Following behavioral testing rats were euthanized; their brains removed and selected areas analyzed for oxidative stress. Increases in the levels of NOX2 were observed in several brain regions including hippocampus, frontal cortex, cortex, striatum and cerebellum following irradiation. Changes in oxidative status varied as a function of whether or not there was an effect of irradiation on cognitive performance, as NOX2 levels were different between the rats exposed using the memory design and those exposed using the learning design. These results suggest that exposure to the types of radiation encountered in space may affect the recall of recently acquired material (memory) but may not have immediate effects on the acquisition of new material (learning). The results also suggest that exposure to space radiation has widespread effects on neuronal function throughout the brain, and some of these changes in neuronal function may be related to the radiation-induced changes in cognitive function.