Research published in the journal Scientific Reports details a study that found that the time astronauts spend in space changes the structure of their brains.
The analysis is based on changes in the brains of cosmonauts who visited the International Space Station (ISS), with parts of the brain called perivascular spaces expanding in volume.
This new study examines how the space around blood vessels in the brain changedwhich is filled with liquid, in 15 astronauts.
The researchers looked at their brains before going into space using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then, after the astronauts had been on the ISS for months, they looked at their brains again at intervals of one month, two months, and six months later. that they returned to Earth.
The researchers found that these fluid-filled spaces in the brain, called perivascular spaces, grew larger in astronauts who went to the space station for the first time.
Nevertheless, cosmonauts who had already been in space and had been to the ISS for another mission did not show any change. That suggests astronauts can adapt to space, according to lead author Juan Piantino.
“Experienced astronauts may have achieved some kind of homeostasis”, said Piantino in a release.
Although the changes in the brain may sound dramatic or alarming, the astronauts did not show any problems with balance or visual memoryso there is no reason to think that they are experiencing problems due to these changes.
The changes likely stem from a lack of gravity, which means fluids tend to pool in the upper body during extended stays in space. This is what gives astronauts a “puffy face” appearance and what may be responsible for the worsening vision many astronauts experience, as explained Digital Trends in your report.
Piantino added: “We all adapt to use gravity to our advantage.. Nature didn’t put our brains on our feet, she put them up high. Once you take gravity out of the equation, what does that do to human physiology?”.