Four payload crewmembers were exposed to sustained linear acceleration in a centrifuge during the Neurolab (STS-90) flight. In contrast to previous studies, otolith-ocular reflexes were preserved during and after flight. This raised the possibility that artificial gravity may have acted as a countermeasure to the deconditioning of otolith-ocular reflexes. None of the astronauts who were centrifuged had orthostatic intolerance when tested with head-up passive tilt after flight. Thus, centrifugation may also have helped maintain post-flight hemodynamic responses to orthostasis by preserving the gain of the otolith-sympathetic reflex. A comparison with two fellow Neurolab orbiter crewmembers not exposed to artificial gravity provided some support for this hypothesis. One of the two had hemodynamic changes in response to post-flight tilt similar to orthostatically intolerant subjects from previous missions. More data is necessary to evaluate this hypothesis, but if it were proven correct, in-flight short-radius centrifugation may help counteract orthostatic intolerance after space flight.
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