Simulation of the geomagnetic field experienced by the International Space Station in its revolution around the Earth: effects on psychophysiological responses to affective picture viewing

Neurosci Lett. 2006 Jun 12;400(3):197-202. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2006.02.045. Epub 2006 Mar 10.


There is evidence suggesting that exposure to an abnormal magnetic environment may produce psychophysiological effects related to abnormalities in responses to stress. This may be of relevance for space medicine where astronauts are exposed to a magnetic field different from that exerted by the Earth. Aim of this study was to assess how the exposure of the head to a magnetic field simulating the one encountered by the International Space Station (ISS) during a single orbit (90 min) around the Earth affects the cardiovascular and psychophysiological parameters. Twenty-four human volunteers were studied double blindly in random order under sham and magnetic exposure. During exposure, the persons were shown a set of pictures of different emotional content while subjective self-rating, skin conductance (SC), blood pressure (BP), and heart rate (HR) were measured. In addition, BP, HR, and tooth pain threshold were assessed before and after exposure. While subjects were under magnetic exposure, skin conductance was strongly differentiated (F(2,36)=22.927; p=0.0001), being high during emotionally involving (positive and negative) pictures and low during neutral pictures. Conversely, when subjects were under sham exposure, no significant differences were observed. There was, however, a trend for higher heart rate during picture viewing under magnetic exposure as compared to sham exposure. No effects were found for the other variables. These results suggest that an abnormal magnetic field that simulates the one encountered by ISS orbiting around the Earth may enhance autonomic response to emotional stimuli.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Affect / radiation effects
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Arousal / radiation effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Psychophysiology / methods
  • Space Simulation / methods*
  • Spacecraft*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / radiation effects