NASA scientists discovered that the astronauts’ brain undergoes major changes in microgravity.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – In a recent study regarding the effects of spaceflight on the human body, NASA scientists have discovered that the astronauts’ brain undergoes major changes after spending too much time working in microgravity. Changes might include decreases and increases in gray matter volume, cerebrospinal fluid-related anomalies, and neuroplasticity. Rachael Seidler, a professor of psychology and kinesiology, declared that all the data uncovered by the study could be used to treat similar conditions on Earth. She also added that all the MRI scans performed on astronauts’ brain revelated that microgravity conditions can reshape many brain’s structures. However, the NASA scientists said that although this was to be expected, the perspective of major brain changes might become a challenge for the upcoming Mars mission, since the astronauts will have to spend more time in space than usual. As part of the project, the scientists performed over a dozen MRI scans on the brains of the astronauts who spend at least six months working on the International Space Station. The investigations revealed a decrease and increase of gray matter. In addition, it would seem that prolonged expose can increase this gray matter differential. Other symptoms associated with spaceflight might also include brain swelling and contractions. Another reason for concern is the abnormal cerebrospinal fluid dynamics. Since gravity pulls the fluid to the lower part of the body, the lack of it makes the liquid go up to the brain, ultimately causing face puffing. Furthermore, MRIs revealed that the brain’s centers associated with leg movement were severely affected by prolonged exposure to microgravity. And since walking around the space station is part of an astronaut’s everyday life, the situation needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The NASA scientists also discovered that even though astronauts spend one or two hours performing a task, the tests reveal that they were actually working for a longer period. Ultimately, the conclusion of the study revealed one of the human’s brain most important traits – the capacity to adapt to the type of situation. The scientists argued that neuroplasticity, or the brain’s capability to undergo major structural changes in order to adapt to new environments, is what will help our brain survive during the upcoming space trip.
Furthermore, all the data gathered during the study will be used to understand and treat brain-related conditions here on Earth. This new study was funded by NASA.