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Astronauts’ brains are changed by long-term space missions, new study says

22.02.2022 06:21 AM
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Astronauts’ brains are changed by long-term space missions, new study says
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Astronauts’ brains are changed by long-term space missions, new study says
A new scientific study has found that the brains of astronauts who spent nearly 6 months in space changed months after their return to Earth.

In their study, published last Friday in the journal Frontiers in Neural Circuits, the researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging, using graphite fiber technology, on 12 cosmonauts from the European Space Agency and the Russian "Roskosmos", who spent an average of 172 days in space.

The magnetic resonance was performed on astronauts before they left the planet, and on other astronauts immediately after their return to Earth, and the magnetic resonance was conducted on astronauts 7 months after their return to Earth.

The study's lead author, Andrei Dorochin, said the researchers observed "changes in the neural connections between several motor areas in the brain," referring to the brain region that allows astronauts to change the way they move in space to adapt to weightlessness there.

The researchers also noted physical changes in the corpus callosum, a part of the brain that connects its two hemispheres and acts as a fluid-filled "communication network", which expands due to spaceflight, but they emphasized that this is just a change in shape and not a "real structural change".

Andrei Dorochin described what happens to astronauts during their flights, in terms of radically adapting their movement strategies in weightlessness, as a "reconnection of their brains".

And the human research program of NASA identified 5 major risks that astronauts could face as a result of spending long periods in space, especially on a trip to Mars, including increased exposure to radiation that can cause cancer or other major health problems, as well as Isolation and confinement, which can affect their mood and may cause sleep disturbances and stress, as well as nutrient deficiencies due to a lack of fresh food, and a change in gravitational fields, which can affect the heart, bones and muscles if they spend 5 to 11 days in space to lose 20% of their muscle mass.
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