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Microgravity Changes Brain Connectivity: What Happens to the Human Brain in Weightlessness

24 Aug 2019, 22:59 UTC
Microgravity Changes Brain Connectivity: What Happens to the Human Brain in Weightlessness
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An international team of Russian and Belgian researchers has found out that space travel has a significant impact on the brain: they discovered that cosmonauts demonstrate changes in brain connectivity related to perception and movement. Some areas, such as regions in the insular and parietal cortices, work more synchronously with other brain areas after the space flight. On the other hand, connectivity of some other regions, such as the cerebellum and vestibular nuclei, decreases. The results of the study were published in Frontiers in Physiology.While Roscosmos is discussing future manned flights to Mars, NASA plans to open the International Space Station for commercial tourism, and SpaceX is testing its Starship Mars prototype, scientists are seriously concerned about the impact of a prolonged stay in space on the human body. During flights, astronauts are continuously exposed to weightlessness, which requires adaptation and causes changes within the body. Life on colonized planets and satellites – humanity's likely future – will demand special conditions to become safe for our body. While the effects of weightlessness on bones, muscles and the vestibular system are well known, how the human brain copes with microgravity has yet to be fully examined. Recent studies using neuroimaging show ...

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