Astronomers’ brains transform in space

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ONE space travel, this is not unusual. Scientists have been observing it for a long time now. During prolonged stays, the body will off astronauts is under heavy load. Because humanity has evolved over millions of years according to gravity who rules the earth. And that once in space and this gravity is gone, our physiology is turned upside down.

that brain astronauts are no exception to these effects. This is confirmed today by University of Oregon researchers (USA) after studying MR performed on 15 astronauts who had lived for several months aboard International Room Station (ISS). The astronauts lent themselves to the experiment just before taking off into space. And right after. But also one, three and six months after their return. All of these images were then compared to the images of the brains of just as many controllers who remained on Earth throughout duration of the study.

What the researchers particularly wanted to investigate for the first time was the effects of such a stay on the perivascular spaces in human brain. They observed that in novice astronauts – those whose first flight into space – increase these gaps. In more experienced astronauts, on the other hand, nothing like this happens. “As if they had reached a kind of homeostasis”comments Juan Piantino, a professor at the University of Oregon School of Medicine, in a communicated.

Aftereffects in space and on Earth

Remember that the perivascular spaces correspond to the spaces surrounding the veins and arteries of our brain. Those that allow circulation of liquid cerebrospinal. They are part of a kind of cleaning system. Scientists call it glymphatic system. It is responsible for eliminating proteins metabolism while we sleep. Otherwise, they would accumulate in our brain.

On Earth, scientists have observed that these perivascular spaces expand as subjects grow older. But also when they develop a form of dementia. But in space, despite the real differences observed on the MRIs, the researchers note that these changes do not appear to have led to symptoms such as balance disorders or memory loss.

This work is, of course, intended to ensure the safety of the astronauts who are going on missions Moon. Or even, too missions to March. But scientists point out that they could also help to better understand the disorders that occur on Earth. L ‘hydrocephalusfor example, which involves circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. With the hope of diagnosing them better in the future and of course treating them better.

Lack of gravity changes the brain

What are the effects ofweightlessness on the brain? A recent study examined the issue and revealed several changes in the brains of twelve astronauts who stayed in International Room Station.

Article by Julie Kern published on 14/03/2022

The human body was built on Earth, where gravity nails us to the earth. A longer stay in space, a foreign environment for us earthlings, force him to adapt. Researchers are carefully studying this phenomenon and its consequences.

To limit the loss of lot bones and muscles make the astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) exercises physical between two scientific experiments. Weightlessness also works the brain. For the first time, the follow-up of twelve astronauts traveling to the ISS has shown that their brains are somehow “rewired”. The study appeared in Boundaries in neural circuits.

The effects of weightlessness on the brain

For this co-operation project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, used twelve astronauts MRIs before and after their stay in space. To study the structure and function of the brain, post-return MRI was performed with a special technique called tractography, which highlights nerve pathways in the brain. ” Our study is the first to use this specific method to detect changes in brain structure after space travel. “, Explains Floris Wuyts, researcher at the University of Antwerp (Belgium).

Due to the modifications, the researchers observed several of them. First in the motor area of ​​the brain, where the connections between neurons has changed. ” Motor regions are the centers of the brain where the commands of movements is initiated. In weightlessness, an astronaut must adapt his travel strategies to Earth. Our study shows that their brains have been switched, so to speak explains Andrei Doroshin, the first author of the study. This diversion continues more than seven months after the astronauts return to Earth.

Corpus callosum, crossed betweenright and left hemispheresalso looked different in the astronauts, but the researchers understood that it was not an inherent change in the corpus callosum, but in expansion adjacent cerebral vesicles, which compress it slightly more than normal.

In terms of muscle and bone mass, understanding the cerebral changes due to weightlessness could allow the establishment of corrective measures, such as combating melting muscles. Mankind’s ambition is to spend ever longer periods in space, and these lengthy space travel risks set in strain the human body.

In addition to the workshops offered throughout France by the Society of Neurosciences, at the beginning of Brain Week, Futura highlights the latest scientific advances regarding our ciboulot. Cognition, psychology or even unusual and extraordinary stories, a collection ofobjectsof Questions and answers and of podcast to find the whole of this week under the tag brain week » and on our social network!

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