The brains of astronauts who have been in space for a long time have been “reprogrammed”. Scientists from the University of Antwerp in Belgium have identified changes in neural connections. The study was conducted for a project of the European Space Agency and the Russian agency Roskosmos, according to TVP Nauka.
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Evolutionarily, man was created to live in the gravitational field of the Earth. The lack of gravity affects the body and the brain.
It was already known that during prolonged stay in space, there is a loss of bone density or muscle mass. He notes that staying off the ground can also cause anemia TVP Science.
A new study by scientists has shed more light on the behavior of the brain during a space flight that takes an average of 172 days. It consisted of examining the astronauts’ brains using diffuse MRI, which uses the movement of water molecules in extracellular space for imaging.
The tests were carried out before the flight, immediately after returning to Earth and seven months after the end of the flight.
Changes in neuronal connections have been found in several areas responsible for movement. The motor areas are the centers that initiate movement – in weightlessness, the brain has to adapt to the changing environment due to the astronaut’s other motor actions.
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“The brain is being ‘reprogrammed’,” explains Dr. Andrei Doroshin of Drexel University.
Scientists point out that the changes were visible even seven months after returning to Earth. Moreover, they reveal that changes in the brain occur in the ventricles adjacent to the corpus callosum, the part that connects the two hemispheres.
It has been proven that rooms in which there is liquid expand due to being in space. This is caused by shifts in the adjacent nervous tissue.
Thus, the shape in the brain changes, and not, as was originally thought, structural changes occur.
TVP Nauka points out that the study makes us aware of the need to understand the impact of spaceflight on the human body. This can be achieved through long-term studies of the effects of weightlessness on the brain.
You don’t know yet what the results will be. The brain is a plastic organ that can adapt in terms of structure and function throughout life. Previous research has shown that both the structure and function of the brain change while in space.
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