Study: Astronauts’ brains continue to undergo prominent changes long after they come back home

Fareeha Arshad

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When in space, our body gets acclimatized to free fall. Because of being in a constant state of free fall, the human body undergoes specific permanent changes that cause prominent health concerns in the long run. For example, a recent study on microgravity and its warping effect on the human body has shown noticeable changes in the blood vessels surrounding the brain among the astronauts long after they return to Earth.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, American researchers have studied the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of fifteen astronaut brains. The MRI scans were taken before the astronauts took off to the International Space Station and six months after returning to Earth.

The scientists carefully observed the shape and sizes of the perivascular spaces present within the brain tissues that aid in balancing brain fluids. They concluded that when the astronauts spend considerable time in space, their brain structures and the surrounding blood vessels undergo several changes. This was more prominent among the astronauts who spent more time in space, while among the experienced astronauts, these changes were not so evident.

This study confirms the observations made in the previous studies that when gravity is removed from the equation, the human body does not get used to these changes. Other studies have also shown that these changes take a long time to recover and remain as such for over a year or more. However, more studies remain to be done to better understand the health hazards associated with inflated perivascular spaces.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I write about current affairs, history, science, and lifestyle.

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