Crewmember performance before, during, and after spaceflight

Thomas H. Kelly, Robert D. Hienz, Troy J. Zarcone, Richard M. Wurster, Joseph V. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The development of technologies for monitoring the welfare of crewmembers is a critical requirement for extended spaceflight. Behavior analytic methodologies provide a framework for studying the performance of individuals and groups, and brief computerized tests have been used successfully to examine the impairing effects of sleep, drug, and nutrition manipulations on human behavior. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility and sensitivity of repeated performance testing during spaceflight. Four National Aeronautics and Space Administration crewmembers were trained to complete computerized questionnaires and performance tasks at repeated regular intervals before and after a 10-day shuttle mission and at times that interfered minimally with other mission activities during spaceflight. Two types of performance, Digit-Symbol Substitution trial completion rates and response times during the most complex Number Recognition trials, were altered slightly during spaceflight. All other dimensions of the performance tasks remained essentially unchanged over the course of the study. Verbal ratings of Fatigue increased slightly during spaceflight and decreased during the postflight test sessions. Arousal ratings increased during spaceflight and decreased postflight. No other consistent changes in rating-scale measures were observed over the course of the study. Crewmembers completed all mission requirements in an efficient manner with no indication of clinically significant behavioral impairment during the 10-day spaceflight. These results support the feasibility and utility of computerized task performances and questionnaire rating scales for repeated measurement of behavior during spaceflight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-241
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Humans
  • NASA
  • Operant behaviour
  • Performance measures
  • Self-report measures
  • Spaceflight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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