Astronaut’s Brain Changes After Returning from Space

Using an algorithm to assess the size of the perivascular space (a gap in brain tissue thought to facilitate fluid balance), the team found time spent in orbit has profound effects on brain tracts.

Among the pool of veteran astronauts, there appears to be little difference in perivascular space size in the two scans taken before the mission and the four taken after.

“Experienced astronauts may have achieved some kind of homeostasis,” said Oregon Health & Science University neurologist Juan Piantino. SciencealertFriday (6/5/2022).

This finding may not be too surprising given what we already know about how the brain distorts when there is a change in gravity.

Today, astronauts rarely make more than a few trips to space in their lives. Typically, astronauts spend about six months at a time on the ISS. But as the commercialization of the space industry increases, this could all change.

Even in the context of the expanded perivascular space, it is not entirely clear whether these changes are accompanied by appreciable health risks. It’s too early to say whether microgravity has any impact on the circulation of cerebral spinal fluid around our brains, especially if the change in the shape of the canal network is significant.


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