China Shenzhou-17 crew member engages in EEG testing.
Image credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Electroencephalogram testing is being carried out by China’s Shenzhou-17 space station. The EEG work is focused on the human brain in space and designed to gauge cognitive function and work efficiency of crew members on long stays in Earth orbit.

According to China Central Television (CCTV) the EEG tests are planned to be carried out in multiple phases by different batches of astronauts. Dozens of such tests have been carried out so far.

Portable platform

In use is an in-orbit portable EEG test platform. The procedures for EEG testing have been standardized through ground experiments at the China Astronaut Research and Training Center.

Cao Yong, a researcher at the China Astronaut Research and Training
Center in Beijing..
Image credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Now in Earth-orbit, the three crew members, Tang Hongbo, Tang Shengjie, and Jiang Xinlin, were launched last October for a six-month space mission.

“This experimental platform is actually a platform that involves multi-resource tasks. It mainly tests the cognitive thinking and memory, including our decision-making, manipulation and other related resources,” said Cao Yong, a researcher at the China Astronaut Research and Training Center in Beijing.

China space station is captured in this photo taken by the departing Shenzhou-16 crew.
Image credit: CMS

Resting state

At the beginning of an EEG experiment, Cao told CCTV, the astronaut subject reaches a resting state to collect data in a relatively calm period and the data will serve as a baseline for subsequent task data.

“After that, the main activity of the astronaut is to operate the joystick and buttons according to our task process, as a response to the task. In addition, we will comprehensively judge the state of the astronaut’s mental load based on the data collected,” Cao added.

China’s in-orbit EEG tests date back to the Shenzhou-11 mission in 2016, according to CCTV.

Meanwhile, another China space station crew – Shenzhou-18 – is in the final stages of training for a reported April 25 sendoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center atop a Long March 2F/G booster.

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