Space travel affects the human brain in strange and unexpected ways. New research has shown that prolonged periods in space increase the brain mass of astronauts by up to 6%.
The astronauts’ brain grows up to 6% after a prolonged space flights in space. However, when it comes to this aspect, size is not everything and this new study does not bring good news.
Several astronauts reported vision problems after making space travel. Subsequent medical evaluations revealed that the optic nerves swollen and that many astronauts suffered a retinal hemoregion.
Scientists suspect that these vision problems are caused by increased intracranial pressure during space flight. A new study, led by Larry Kramer, a radiologist at the University of Texas Health Sciences Centeno, found new evidence that pressure increases with gravity.
The team performed magnetic resonances on 11 astronauts, before and after spaceflight to space.
The results showed that, due to the prolonged exposure to microgravity, the brain of these humans swelled and the cerebrospinal fluid increased in volume.
The latest findings support the theory that space travel increases pressure on the brain, which may in turn be linked to vision problems reported by many astronauts, advances Space.
Kramer and his team also found that the pituitary gland alters its height and shape after exposure to microgravity.
This gland compresses, a sign of increased pressure in the head. The results of the study were published on April 14 in the Radiological Society of North America.
The investigation concluded that both the swelling and the pressure remained for up to a year after the astronauts returned to Earth, a feature that makes scientists suspect that the effects of microgravity may last.
Still, more studies are needed to validate this hypothesis.
Kramer are unsure of the cognitive implications of this “brain augmentation”.
“We don’t know yet, but it will be a subject of interest in the next research proposals.”
Radiation and social isolation are two of the problems that astronauts face in space. However, this new study makes it clear that problems do not miraculously disappear as soon as astronauts return to Earth.