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J Vestib Res. 1998 Jan-Feb;8(1):81-94.

Sleep and vestibular adaptation: implications for function in microgravity.

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Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, USA.
Harvard Med Sch, Boston, MA


Optimal human performance depends upon integrated sensorimotor and cognitive functions, both of which are known to be exquisitely sensitive to loss of sleep. Under the microgravity conditions of space flight, adaptation of both sensorimotor (especially vestibular) and cognitive functions (especially orientation) must occur quickly--and be maintained--despite any concurrent disruptions of sleep that may be caused by microgravity itself, or by the uncomfortable sleeping conditions of the spacecraft. It is the three-way interaction between sleep quality, general work efficiency, and sensorimotor integration that is the subject of this paper and the focus of new work in our laboratory. To record sleep under field conditions including microgravity, we utilize a novel system called the Nightcap that we have developed and extensively tested on normal and sleep-disordered subjects. To perturb the vestibular system in ground-based studies, we utilize a variety of experimental conditions including optokinetic stimulation and both minifying and reversing goggle paradigms that have been extensively studied in relation to plasticity of the vestibulo-ocular reflex. Using these techniques we will test the hypothesis that vestibular adaptation both provokes and is enhanced by REM sleep under both ground-based and space conditions. In this paper we describe preliminary results of some of our studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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