Mars500: Scientific protocols

Influence of physical activity and diet-ary supplements on the serotonergic system and its implications on per-formance and mood

Long duration space flights have provided a considerable amount of scientific research on human ability to function in extreme environments. Findings indicate that long duration missions take a toll on the individual, both physiologically and psychologically, as entry into a gravity-free environment, and living in it, is a novel situation for humans which the body may perceive as stress.

Medical interest in exercise as a countermeasure to mood changes has recently re-emerged. Special attention was given to alterations in the serotonergic (5-HT) system which plays a complex regulatory role in neurological activity and is known to influence the adaptation of e.g. mood, vigilance and performance.

This study will investigate the influence of exercise with and without dietary supplements on the serotonergic system in healthy but confined subjects and determine its implications on mood and mental and motor performance. The supplements will be branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) or Tryptophan (TRP), which are important dietary amino acids.

Responses of the serotonergic system will be evaluated by analysing blood samples taken every 35 days during confinement. Effects of exercise on mood and motivation will be monitored using electroencephalography (EEG), questionnaires and performance tests.

The hypothesis is that impairments in mood due to the isolation and confinement, together with a lack of physical exercise lead to decreases in mental and motor performance whereas physical exercise linked with dietary supplements will improve mood and therefore performance irrespective of the environmental restrictions.

Science Team: Stefan Schneider (DE) et al.

Last update: 26 February 2009

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