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Behavior of mice aboard the International Space Station

Cadena, Samuel, Choi, Sungshin, Saravia-Butler, Amanda, Shirazi-Fard, Yasaman, Leveson-Gower, Dennis, Stodieck, Louis, Beegle, Janet, Solis, Stephanie, Ronca, April and Globus, Ruth (2019) Behavior of mice aboard the International Space Station. Scientific reports, 9 (1). ISSN 20452322


Interest in space habitation has grown dramatically with planning underway for the first human transit to Mars. Despite a robust history of domestic and international spaceflight research, understanding behavioral adaptation to the space environment for extended durations is scant. Here we report the first detailed behavioral analysis of mice flown in the NASA Rodent Habitat on the International Space Station (ISS). Following 4-day transit from Earth to ISS, video images were acquired on orbit from 16- and 32-week-old female mice. Spaceflown mice engaged in a full range of species-typical behaviors. Physical activity was greater in younger flight mice as compared to identically-housed ground controls, and followed the circadian cycle. Within 7-10 days after launch, younger (but not older), mice began to exhibit distinctive circling or 'race-tracking' behavior that evolved into coordinated group activity. Organized group circling behavior unique to spaceflight may represent stereotyped motor behavior, rewarding effects of physical exercise, or vestibular sensation produced via self-motion. Affording mice the opportunity to grab and run in the RH resembles physical activities that the crew participate in routinely. Our approach yields a useful analog for better understanding human responses to spaceflight, providing the opportunity to assess how physical movement influences responses to microgravity.

Item Type: Article
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2019 00:45
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2019 00:45


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