Space travel will change the shape of the human brain

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2017-02-02 10:30:05

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According to a new study of a group of scientists from the University of Michigan (USA), during space flight, the human brain changes its shape. To such conclusion the research team came after comparative analysis of the results of magnetic resonance imaging 12 astronauts, who spent several weeks aboard the International space station, and 14 astronauts who lived on the ISS for six months.

In both cases, the scientists noted increasing and decreasing the volume of gray matter in different parts of the brain of astronauts. More significant changes were observed in people who was in orbit for more time. Based on these data it was concluded that the longer a person is in space the greater the amount of gray matter moving.

"We found a large reduction in the volume of gray matter in parts of the brain. This may be due to the peculiarities of the redistribution of cerebrospinal fluid in humans in space. Since in orbit there is a clear lack of gravity, liquids are unevenly distributed throughout the body. As a result, the space the person is often observed so-called syndrome swelling of the face. In General, long stay in space can lead to the displacement of the brain or changing the percentage concentration of gray matter in parts of the brain," — says lead researcher Rachel Seidler.

In the study, a team of scientists noted the increase in the volume of gray matter in brain regions responsible for controlling the movements of the lower extremities and sensitivity. According to researchers, this may be a result of the fact that the brain is trying to understand and adapt to movements in microgravity. Scientists believe that even in cases of a relatively small amount of time spent in orbit, these changes become very noticeable, as the brain constantly throughout the day trying to adapt to the conditions on the ISS.

Unfortunately, experts still have not determined exactly the nature of these changes. But if future studies can do it, the new information may be extremely useful in the study of diseases such as hydrocephalus. The researchers say that this is the first study that showed actual changes in the structure of the brain in the framework of space missions. However, this is only one of the problems which face people who are planning to spend a long time in space. And solve it like many others — yet it is essential until, until we set off to explore other worlds.

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