NEUROPOLE refers to the fusion of two new studies in Antarctica for which the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Royal Military Academy (VIPER research unit), the German Sports University of Cologne, the Flemish Institute for Technology, The University of Rome – La Sapienza, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences have joined forces. They are the third instalment in our continuous search to unravel the mysteries of sleep and performance in extreme environments.

Background information about Concordia

The Concordia research station is located on Dome C in Antarctica, one of the coldest and most hostile place on Earth. The total isolation in winter simulates long duration spaceflight in a real environment. More...

Antarctic Sleep Monitoring

The previous two instalments, the ASMo (Antarctic Sleep Monitoring) campaigns 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 were the first attempts of the Royal Military Academy in cooperation with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel to evaluate sleep, sleep-wake regulation, circadian rhythms, physical activity, mood and attentional performance in extreme environments.


This study, aims at identifying variations in cognitive performance during the overwintering period. Next to overall performance measurements, strategic shifts in cognitive control will be investigated in order to assess potential adaptive functioning. Additionally, the assessment of sleep quality and circadian rhythmicity will allow identifying whether previously described disturbances are replicated here, and how these relate to the quality of cognitive performance.


The second new study, called ESCOM, will focus mainly on evaluating the influence of an exercise program on sleep quality and cognitive performance and as such will, play a major role in identifying countermeasures for decreased sleep quality and cognitive control in extreme environments.


Concurrently, 3 other ESA-funded projects will be implemented at Concordia, namely ADAPTICE, BEACON, and BRAINS ON ICE. As ESCOM and COGNIPOLE also share common grounds, it was decided to unite all 5 projects into one integrated protocol to maximize scientific value and at the same time minimize crew workload.
The coordination of this integrated protocol is executed by Med. Cdt. Nathalie Pattyn, who will be at Concordia until the end of January 2011 to ensure an efficient and smooth implementation of the experiments. Being the Medical Doctor as well as the project leader of the ASMo campaigns, she already has extended field experience in extreme and uncommon environments.