The brain restructures itself to adapt to spending extended periods in space, according to a collaborative project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, a team of international researchers led by the University of Antwerp.
What to Know
The brain’s own neuroplasticity has the capability of altering its shape and function to adapt to extended spaceflight.
After extended time in space, neural connections between several motor areas of the brain show significant microstructural changes in several white matter tracts, such as the sensorimotor tracts.
In weightlessness, astronauts need to adapt their movements drastically, compared to on Earth, and the brain makes its own adaptations to help them accommodate.
The follow-up scans revealed that 7 months after returning to Earth, these changes were still visible.
This is the first study to analyze the structural connectivity changes that happen in the brain after long-duration spaceflight.
This is a summary of the article, “Brains of Cosmonauts Get ‘Rewired’ to Adapt to Long-term Space Missions, Study Finds,” published by Frontiers in Neural Circuits on February 19. The full article can be found on eurekalert.org.
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