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Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 27;7(1):14283. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14752-8.

Eye-Head Coordination in 31 Space Shuttle Astronauts during Visual Target Acquisition.

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Neuroscience Laboratories, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, USA.
University Hospital of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sofia, Bulgaria.
Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Bron, France.
KBRwyle, Houston, TX, USA.


Between 1989 and 1995, NASA evaluated how increases in flight duration of up to 17 days affected the health and performance of Space Shuttle astronauts. Thirty-one Space Shuttle pilots participating in 17 space missions were tested at 3 different times before flight and 3 different times after flight, starting within a few hours of return to Earth. The astronauts moved their head and eyes as quickly as possible from the central fixation point to a specified target located 20°, 30°, or 60° off center. Eye movements were measured with electro-oculography (EOG). Head movements were measured with a triaxial rate sensor system mounted on a headband. The mean time to visually acquire the targets immediately after landing was 7-10% (30-34 ms) slower than mean preflight values, but results returned to baseline after 48 hours. This increase in gaze latency was due to a decrease in velocity and amplitude of both the eye saccade and head movement toward the target. Results were similar after all space missions, regardless of length.

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