The brain of astronauts is altered after space flight, as found by scientists from the University of Michigan. Their findings can be used to treat a variety of diseases affecting the brain.
Conducted before and after space flight MRI scans show that the brains of astronauts is shrinking and expanding beyond earth’s atmosphere. This is the first study which the authors drew attention to the structural brain changes of astronauts during space flight.
It turned out that the volume of grey matter increases or decreases, and the level of these changes depends entirely upon the length of time spent in orbit.
The authors of the study conducted MRI brain scans on 12 astronauts who have spent at least two weeks in space, and another 14 who spent 6 months on the International space station. All astronauts showed an increase or decrease in the amount of gray matter in different areas of the brain, at the same time, the longer people were in the space, the more significant were these changes in the brain.
Scientists have discovered changes in the volume of gray matter in areas of the brain that control leg movement and process sensory information from the lower extremities. This reflects changes associated with the process of learning new movements in terms of gravity.
According to the authors of the study, the present changes in the brain can represent new connections between neurons. Scientists have provided valuable information about the human brain, which can be used in the treatment of various diseases. In particular, it is proved that the brain is able to use a variety of signaling pathways to compensate structural changes caused by space flight.