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The Cognition and Fine Motor Skills Test Batteries: Normative Data and Interdependencies  (2020)
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Space mission success and safety relies upon astronaut functional state. Since spaceflight stressors affect cognitive processing and fine motor skills, NASA requires that measures of performance of these things remain within clinically accepted values (NASA STD 3001). NASA is in the process of developing two test batteries for the assessment of crew cognitive and fine motor skills before, during and after spaceflight. Toward that goal, the current project collected normative scores in 91 "astronaut-like" military and civilian pilots. The Cognition Test Battery (CTB) contains ten sub-tests that measure a range of cognitive abilities. For five of the ten CTB sub-tests, we propose scores to improve the battery's sensitivity. Among the ten sub-tests, response times were more highly correlated than accuracy scores. Principle component analysis of the correlations revealed that the first response time factor could explain over 40% of the total variance and appeared to represent the tendency of observers to try to respond more quickly. The first accuracy factor (explaining only 20%) gave a high weight to the higher level cognitive sub-tests and a negative weight to tasks associated with motor and lower level cognitive processing. The Fine Motor Skills (FMS) test battery contains four sub-tests (Tracking, Pointing, Tracing, Rotating) performed on an Apple iPad tablet computer. Principle component analysis on the sub-test response time correlations revealed that the first two factors accounted for ~80% of the variance in performance. The first component captured overall speed on all four of the sub-tests. The second factor separated the sub-tasks into two groups (Drag-Point vs Trace-Rotate). Previous work found the first group response times correlated with that of a standard peg board task, while those of the other group did not. Correlations were computed between the first FMS factor and the response time and accuracy scores from each CTB sub-task. Performing fine motor behaviors rapidly was significantly correlated with the ability to perform many of the CTB sub-tests rapidly. This ability cannot be simple motor speed since scores on the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) subtask did not correlate with the ability to perform the other tasks rapidly. Speed on fine motor skills correlated significantly with accuracy on the short-term-memory sub-test. We hypothesize that eye movements, which can be regarded as a fine motor skill, may explain this relationship.
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Batteries, Cognition, Data, Fine Motor Skills Test, Interdependencies, Normative
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Adobe PDF Icon  NASA_TM20205008023.pdf (Download Acrobat Reader Click to download Adobe Acrabat Reader)
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019