Space missions Rewired Cosmonaut Brains

  • According to recent studies, the structural connection of the brain changes as a result of long-duration space missions. White matter tracts showed the most substantial alterations, particularly the sensorimotor tract.
  • Frontiers in Neural Circuits published was the first to analyze the structural connectivity changes n the brain after long-duration spaceflight. 
  • Wuyts explained that their study is the first to use this specific method to identify the changes in brain structure after spaceflight. 

In a new study, researchers from the European Space Agency and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos investigated how cosmonaut’s brains change after flying to space and back. They also demonstrated how the brain adjusts to spaceflight, discovering that the brain is almost rewired, with fluid shifts and shape changes occurring.

Our brain’s structure and function can alter and adapt throughout our lives. Therefore, understanding the consequences of spaceflight on human brains is critical as human space exploration expands to new frontiers. Previous studies have revealed that spaceflight has the potential to change the form and function of an adult brain.

White matters refer to the parts of the brain that are accountable for communications between the gray matter and the body between different gray matter regions.

The Learned Brain

The researchers employed fiber tractography, a brain imaging technology, to explore brain anatomy and function after spaceflight.

Wuyts said that Fiber tractography provides a kind of brain wiring scheme. However, this is the first study to employ this exact approach to detect changes in brain structure after spaceflight.

Wuyts and his colleagues obtained diffusion MRI images of 12 male cosmonauts before and after their space missions. They also took eight follow-up scans seven months after the spaceflight. The cosmonauts were all on long-duration missions that lasted an average of 172 days.

The structural changes discussed by the Wuyts discovered in the corpus callosum are induced by ventricular dilation, which causes anatomical shifts in the neighboring neuronal tissue.

Whereas it was previously assumed that there are fundamental structural changes in the brain, they merely see shape changes. This puts the findings in a different light.

They found that the concept of the learned brain or the level of neuroplasticity the brain has to adapt to spaceflight. Andrei Doroshin of Drexel University added they had found the changes in the neural connections between the several motor areas of the brain.

Further, they explained that Motor areas are brain locations that initiate movement commands. Therefore, an astronaut’s movement methods must be substantially altered in weightlessness compared to Earth. Their research establishes that their brain has been rewired.

The future of Spaceflight Researches

The study elaborated the need and purpose for understanding how spaceflight affects your body and, in the case of long-term research on the effects on the human brain. There are already available countermeasures for muscle and bone loss, such as exercising for at least two hours every day. However, future studies may give evidence that brain countermeasures are required.

Wuyts Explanation’s on This Cosmonaut Brains

These discoveries provide us with other parts of the puzzle. We don’t know how the entire piece will look because this research is groundbreaking. Nevertheless, these findings add to our general grasp of what’s going on in astronauts’ minds.

It is critical to continue this line of research, exploring spaceflight-induced brain alterations from many angles and using various approaches. This is Wuyt’s explanation of the cosmonaut’s brains.

He further added that artificial gravity could help to mitigate these impacts. In theory, artificial gravity is created by an inertial force to recreate the sensation of gravity as we know it on Earth. However, scientists have just begun to put this concept into reality, which has long been a hallmark of science fiction

Disclaimer: This information is covered based on the latest research and development available. However, it may not fully reflect all current aspects of the subject matter.

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