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Countermeasures for Neurobehavioral Vulnerabilities to Space Radiation

Principal Investigator:
Robert D. Hienz, Ph.D.

The John Hopkins University School of Medicine

Assessing the biological consequences of living in the space radiation environment represents one of the highest priority areas of NASA research. Of critical importance is the need for an assessment of the vulnerabilities of the central nervous system (CNS) leading to neurobehavioral changes in astronaut performance during long-term space missions, and for the development of effective countermeasures to such risks. Dr. Robert D. Hienz and his team are addressing this need via the application of an innovative animal model to 1) assess the long-term effects of radiation exposure on cognitive neurobehavioral function, 2) determine the likely mechanisms of damage to the CNS following radiation exposure (e.g., radiation-induced changes in neurotransmitter system function in the brain), and 3) develop pharmacological countermeasures to the adverse neurobehavioral effects of space radiation.