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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1998 Nov;28(1-2):194-202.

Adaptation in a rotating artificial gravity environment.

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  • 1Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory, Brandeis University, MS033, Waltham, MA 012254-9110, USA.


The centripetal force generated by a rotating space vehicle is a potential source of artificial gravity. Minimizing the cost of such a vehicle dictates using the smallest radius and highest rotation rate possible, but head movements made at high rotation rates generate disorienting, nauseogenic cross-coupled semicircular canal stimulation. Early studies suggested 3 or 4 rpm as the highest rate at which humans could adapt to this vestibular stimulus. These studies neglected the concomitant Coriolis force actions on the head/neck system. We assessed non-vestibular Coriolis effects by measuring arm and leg movements made in the center of a rotating room turning at 10 rpm and found that movement endpoints and trajectories are initially deviated; however, subjects readily adapt with 10-20 additional movements, even without seeing their errors. Equilibrium point theories of motor control errantly predict that Coriolis forces will not cause movement endpoint errors so that subjects will not have to adapt their reaching movements during rotation. Adaptation of movement trajectory acquired during Coriolis force perturbations of one arm transfers to the unexposed arm but there is no intermanual transfer of endpoint adaptation indicating that neuromotor representations of movement endpoint and trajectory are separable and can adapt independently, also contradictory to equilibrium point theories. Touching a surface at the end of reaching movements is required for complete endpoint adaptation in darkness but trajectory adapts completely with or without terminal contact. We have also made the first kinematic measurements of unconstrained head movements during rotation, these movements show rapid adaptation to Coriolis force perturbations. Our results point to methods for achieving full compensation for rotation up to 10 rpm.

Copyright 1998 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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