advances in cognitive function assessment to the enhancement of astronaut screening, selection, and training as well as intramission monitoring and countermeasure development resides in the results of recent studies conducted during both simulated and actual spaceflights (Manzey et al., 2000). Under such conditions, degradation in manual tracking ability and phasic decrements in cognitive function performance have been reported as a result of fatigue and other factors.
The utility of measures that provide an evaluation of personal traits as they may be related to successful participation in long-duration space missions will also require careful examination. Data obtained from actual and simulated space missions, as well as submarine missions, led to the conclusion that individuals strongly motivated for achievement adapted to these environments better than their peers did (Sandal et al., 1999). By contrast, studies of crews that wintered over in Antarctica found that ambitious individuals had lower ratings on some performance measures than peers who had more modest achievement needs (Wood et al., 1999; Palinkas, 2000a,b). Santy (1994) has also reported that selection procedures in other national space programs (e.g., those of Russia, Germany, and Japan) tend to favor candidates for longer-term space missions whose personality characteristics measure more in the middle of the motivational range.
A number of promising new developments in the rapidly advancing fields of neuroscience and molecular genetics hold considerable long-range potential for the assessment, evaluation, and training of future astronauts. Neuroimaging procedures involving functional brain scans are continuing to advance knowledge of the relationship between behavioral processes involving both cognitive and emotional interactions on the one hand and well-specified neural systems and regional structures on the other (Damasio, 1994; Kosslyn and Koenig, 1995; Cahill et al., 1996; Alkire et al., 1998). There is reason to expect that future developments in the functional imaging field will provide noninvasive methodologies that could enhance the feasibility of both training and behavioral health monitoring applications. These probable breakthroughs could be of significant use to NASA. Four brief examples of how NASA might use these advances for screening, selection, and training are described in Box 5–4.
It is also conceivable that the future of long-duration travel beyond Earth orbit will be significantly affected by the rapidly advancing field of molecular medicine (see Chapter 4), to the extent that its neuroscience dimensions could differentially reflect DNA variations of relevance to adaptation to stressful behavioral and environmental situations. It is important that the