Lack of gravity can dramatically affect astronaut brains

As you may know, it is not from today that studies are conducted to find out how astronaut organisms react when they remain seasons in space. For example, it is already known that a lack of gravity can lead to muscle atrophy, loss of bone mass, a slight increase in height, redistribution of body fluids - which in turn can affect the functioning of the circulatory system. and impair vision - and even cause DNA changes.

However, a study recently revealed that staying for long periods in microgravity environments can also dramatically affect the brain. Remember that we commented above that the seasons in space cause a redistribution of body fluids, right? The survey pointed out that cerebrospinal fluid, which occupies the space between the brain and skull and helps cushion impacts, starts to behave differently, accumulating where it should not and "squeezing" the organ.

Brain shrinkage

As National Weographic's Maya Wei-Haas explained, the study was conducted with Russian cosmonauts following their return from space missions and published in the New England Journal of Medicine a few days ago. According to the scientists behind the research, although most participants recovered completely after returning, some abnormalities and deformations continued to be detected in travelers' brains even after 7 months of returning from their seasons in space.

Cosmonaut in Space

(National Geographic / NASA / Steve Swanson)

According to the researchers, what seems to happen to the brains of astronauts - or cosmonauts, whatever! - is that the increase in intracranial pressure caused by cerebrospinal fluid accumulation causes brain cells and structures to retain more fluid, and when fluid is drained, the brain eventually loses volume.

Sounds scary? A little bit ... And the problem is that scientists do not know yet whether this fluid retention and consequent "shrinkage" of the brain can cause some kind of neurological symptom or cognitive impairment.

Human brain

(National Geographic / Robert Clark)

The concern is that if a few months' stay could have this kind of consequence, what would happen to astronauts who had to make longer trips, such as going to Mars - a mission that has been on space agency radar for some time? ? What is clear from the results presented by the researchers is that many more studies will need to be done before sending humans to explore other planets safely.


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