The absence of gravity during space flight leads to adaptive changes in central nervous system function. The goal of the laboratory is to develop countermeasures to mitigate the space flight related changes in nervous system function associated with adaptation to microgravity and return to gravitational environments. These adaptive changes include:
- posture and gait function
- eye-head coordination
- space motion sickness
- vestibular-autonomic function
The laboratory supports ground-based and in-flight investigations, crew health monitoring, risk mitigation operational activities and countermeasures evaluation and validation research. The Neuroscience Laboratories are composed of the following:
- Motion Laboratory -- Current research in the Motion Laboratory is focused on understanding how exposure to space flight produces post-flight disturbances in balance and gait control and developing training programs that will facilitate recovery of mobility after long-duration spaceflight.
- Neuroautonomic Laboratory -- The Neuroautonomic Laboratory is currently focused on research involving the neural control of the heart and autonomic cardiovascular regulation. Present efforts are especially focused on both clinical research and on advanced technology development in the field of computerized electrocardiography (ECG).
- Off-Vertical Axis Rotator Laboratory -- The Off-Vertical Axis Rotator Laboratory is primarily concerned with understanding the mechanisms by which judgments of orientation are made in order to understand the causes of the episodes of disorientation and to develop countermeasures targeting the elimination of such episodes.
- Postural Control Laboratory -- Evaluation of dynamic postural control for experimental studies and medical testing of astronauts is supported using modified and enhanced versions of the commercially available EquiTest computerized dynamic posturography system developed by NeuroCom, International (Clackamas, OR, USA) for clinical assessment of disorders in balance control.
- Preflight Adaptation and Virtual Reality Training Laboratory -- The overall goal of this laboratory is to develop and evaluate countermeasures for space motion sickness, spatial disorientation and sensorimotor disturbances associated with the microgravity environment of space flight.
- Sensorimotor Laboratory -- The Sensorimotor Laboratory has been established to evaluate the effect of bed rest on the functional stretch reflex (where muscle unloading is the primary driver for change) and to compare these results with those observed as a function of flight.
- Short-Arm Centrifuge Laboratory -- The Short-Arm Centrifuge Laboratory supports human experiments requiring eccentric rotation.
- Visual-Vestibular (Gaze) Laboratory -- The primary objective of the Gaze Laboratory is to investigate the emergence or alteration of goal-oriented strategies required to maintain effective gaze when the interactive sensorimotor systems required for this function have been modified following exposure to the stimulus rearrangement of space flight.