No Neuromuscular Side-Effects of Scopolamine in Sensorimotor Control and Force-Generating Capacity Among Parabolic Fliers

Ramona Ritzmann, Kathrin Freyler, Anne Krause, Albert Gollhofer

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Scopolamine is used to counteract motion sickness in parabolic flight (PF) experiments. Although the drug’s anticholinergic properties effectively impede vomiting, recent studies document other sensory side-effects in the central nervous system that may considerably influence sensorimotor performance. This study aimed to quantify such effects in order to determine if they are of methodological and operational significance for sensorimotor control. Ten subjects of a PF campaign received a weight-sex-based dose of a subcutaneous scopolamine injection. Sensorimotor performance was recorded before medication, 20min, 2h and 4h after injection in four space-relevant paradigms: balance control in one-leg stance with eyes open (protocol 1) and closed as well as force-generating capacity in countermovement jumps and hops (protocol 2). Postural sway, forces and joint angles were recorded. Neuromuscular control was assessed by electromyography and peripheral nerve stimulation; H-reflexes and M-waves were used to monitor spinal excitability of the Ia afferent reflex circuitry and maximal motor output. (1) H-reflex amplitudes, latencies and functional reflexes remained unchanged after scopolamine injection. (2) M-waves, neuromuscular activation intensities and antagonistic muscle coordination did not change with scopolamine administration. (3) Balance performance and force-generating capacity were not impeded by scopolamine. We found no evidence for changes in sensorimotor control in response to scopolamine injection. Sensory processing of daily relevant reflexes, spinal excitability, maximal motor output and performance parameters were not sensitive to the medication. We conclude that scopolamine administration can be used to counteract motion sickness in PF without methodological and operational concerns or interference regarding sensorimotor skills associated with neuromuscular control.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrogravity Science and Technology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)477-490
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2016

Research areas and keywords

  • Balance
  • Center of pressure
  • Force
  • Motion sickness
  • Reflex
  • Simulated microgravity


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