Zero gravity environments may have negative effects on the human brain
By Lulu Chang
At some point if your life, you’ve probably had aspirations about space travel. After all, it seems like every five-year-old wants to be an astronaut, and as missions to the moon, Mars, and other extraterrestrial bodies become more and more accessible, the idea of jetting off Earth seems less and less far-fetched. But before you get too excited about going into space, you might want to consider the effects space missions have on the human brain. As it turns out, the effects are a bit alarming.
As NASA begins its search for new astronauts to populate the International Space Station and travel to Mars, new studies from the agency are also warning candidates of the potential physiological toll that being away from the planet for extended periods of time may have. In fact, a number of different studies have suggested that long missions in outer space have significant effects on astronauts’ brains — as one recent NASA study found, “a microgravity environment can lead to changes in brain structure and take a serious toll on astronauts’ ability to think.” According to its results, astronauts who’d spent six months on the ISS “had a more difficult time completing mental tasks and with physical coordination.”
Furthermore, preliminary findings from an ongoing European Space Agency and Roscosmos study reveal that the cortex of the brain actually reorganizes itself in order to adapt to the new environment at play in space. While the study will continue into 2018, initial discoveries have already been published in the journal Brain Structure and Function.
This article was originally posted on Digital Trends