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Title: Lack of reliability in the disruption of cognitive performance following exposure to protons

Author
item RABIN, BERNARD - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
item HEROUX, NICHOLAS - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item CARRIHILL-KNOLL, KIRSTY - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
item BECK, ZACHARY - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
item BAXTER, CHELSEA - UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

Submitted to: Radiation and Environmental Biophysics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/23/2015
Publication Date: 8/1/2015
Citation: Rabin, B.M., Heroux, N.A., Shukitt Hale, B., Carrihill-Knoll, K.L., Beck, Z., Baxter, C. 2015. Lack of reliability in the disruption of cognitive performance following exposure to protons. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics. 54:285-295.

Interpretive Summary: Astronauts in outer space are exposed to various types of radioactive particles, including protons – positively charged particles that are fundamental constituents of atoms. Exposure to protons causes changes in brain function that are similar to those seen in aging. In order to determine the reliability of effects of exposure to protons on brain function, rats were exposed to protons at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at different exposure levels and then tested on two different tasks of mental function. Rats were either given head-only exposures or whole-body exposures and exposed to either a high dose or low dose of protons. The results showed a lack of consistency in the effects of exposure to protons on the rats’ performance on the mental tasks, both within and between the different exposure levels. Some factors that might influence the lack of consistency are the size and pattern of tissue damage produced by exposure to protons.

Technical Abstract: A series of three replications were run to determine the reliability with which exposure to protons produces a disruption of cognitive performance, using a novel object recognition task and operant responding on an ascending fixed-ratio task. For the first two replications, rats were exposed to head-only exposures to 1000 MeV/n protons at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory. For the third replication, subjects were given head-only or whole-body exposures to both 1000 and 150 MeV/n protons. The results were characterized by a lack of consistency in the effects of exposure to protons on the performance of these cognitive tasks, both within and between replications. The factors that might influence the lack of consistency and the implications for exploratory class missions are discussed.