Researchers recently published new information in the ‘Frontiers in Neural Circuits’ paper that states long-duration spaceflight has the potential to rewire an astronauts’ brain, or more specifically, cause microstructural changes in several white matter tracts. This happens because the brain adapts to spaceflight, with both fluid shifts and shape changes occurring, lasting for months after one returns to Earth. Read more for a video and additional information.
The data in this study was obtained through diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) scans taken just before and right after the astronauts’ time spent in space, which lasted on average 172 days. Next, additional scans were performed 7-months later that showed while there were some reversal of some changes, a few remained visible. Researchers concluded that the extreme environment of space are reflected in these tracts, causing the altered sensorimotor function shown in astronauts.
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NASA has been studying what happens to the human body in space for over 50 years. Studying the effects of space flight on human bodies can help prepare astronauts for long-term destinations, like the moon and Mars,” said Elizabeth Gamillo.