The space radiation environment includes energetic charged particles that may impact behavioral and cognitive performance. The relationship between the dose and the ionization density of the various types of charged particles (expressed as linear energy transfer or LET), and cognitive performance is complex. In our earlier work, whole body exposure to 28Si ions (263 MeV/n, LET=78keV/μm; 1.6 Gy) affected contextual fear memory in C57BL/6J × DBA2/J F1 (B6D2F1) mice three months following irradiation but this was not the case following exposure to 48Ti ions (1 GeV/n, LET=107keV/μm; 0.2 or 0.4 Gy). As an increased understanding of the impact of charged particle exposures is critical for assessment of risk to the CNS of astronauts during and following missions, in this study we used 40Ca ion beams (942 MeV/n, LET=90keV/μm) to determine the behavioral and cognitive effects for the LET region between that of Si ions and Ti ions. 40Ca ion exposure reduced baseline activity in a novel environment in a dose-dependent manner, which suggests reduced motivation to explore and/or a diminished level of curiosity in a novel environment. In addition, exposure to 40Ca ions had sex-dependent effects on response to shock. 40Ca ion irradiation reduced the response to shock in female, but not male, mice. In contrast, 40Ca ion irradiation did not affect fear learning, memory, or extinction of fear memory for either gender at the doses employed in this study. Thus 40Ca ion irradiation affected behavioral, but not cognitive, performance. The effects of 40Ca ion irradiation on behavioral performance are relevant, as a combination of novelty and aversive environmental stimuli is pertinent to conditions experienced by astronauts during and following space missions.
- Fear memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis