Relative effectiveness of different particles and energies in disrupting behavioral performance
On exploratory class missions to other planets, astronauts will be exposed to varieties and doses of heavy particles, which are not experienced in low earth orbit. These particles can affect neurobehavioral function and potentially interfere with the ability of astronauts to successfully meet mission requirements. While a significant amount of research has been performed on the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of different types of heavy particles on cytogenetic function, little research has been done on the effectiveness of different particles on central nervous system function and on cognitive/behavioral performance. The present paper reviews some recent research on the effects of exposure to different types and energies of heavy particles on the performance of two behavioral tasks which depend upon the integrity of the central dopaminergic system. This review indicates that the RBE of different particles for neurobehavioral dysfunction cannot be predicted only on the basis of the linear energy transfer of the specific particle.