Recently, a new study published in “Scientific Reports”, scientists found that space can also have an impact on the human brain, and it can last for a long time.
Researchers from the United States performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the brains of 15 astronauts and scanned them both before and after they entered the International Space Station. The earliest scans were performed six months before they went to space, and the latest was performed six months after they returned to the ground, and the researchers then compared them.
Using the latest method, they compared the spaces around blood vessels, the gaps in brain tissue that are thought to have an impact on fluid balance in humans. It was found that there were obvious differences in the gaps in the brains of astronauts before and after the mission.
They also noticed that astronauts on multiple missions appeared to be less susceptible than first-time astronauts. When the astronauts’ images from two scans before the mission and four scans after returning to the ground were compared, the researchers found that the space around the blood vessels in their brains had barely changed.
“Those astronauts who have been in space may have developed some kind of equilibrium in their bodies,” says neuroscientist Juan Piantino of Oregon Health and Science University.
At present, researchers only know that the microgravity environment in space will cause the space around the blood vessels in the astronauts’ brains to increase, but whether this change will pose a threat to their physical health is still unknown.
According to existing research, scientists believe that the cerebrospinal fluid around the gray matter of the human brain can wash away the waste accumulated during the day during human sleep, and the space between the blood vessels in the brain is important for the flow of this cerebrospinal fluid. Without the right space for this cerebrospinal fluid to flow, the accumulation of waste products in the brain can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
In fact, before that, scientists already knew that the space environment would have a certain effect on the human brain. Previous studies of astronauts’ brain tissue and internal fluid volume have found that the effects of space on these parts are difficult to recover quickly after returning to the surface, and some effects even take a year or more to recover.
As Piantino puts it: We’ve all adapted to living with the help of gravity. Instead of putting our brains on our feet, nature keeps it high.
We seem to carry out various activities in the process of fighting against gravity in our life, but on the other hand, the human body has learned to “turn dry arms into jade and silk”, using gravity to promote blood flow, discharge some waste, and even other things that we don’t know yet. The advantages. Once in space, the concept of the brain being “above” the body disappears, which cannot possibly not affect the human body.
Piantino also pointed out that the study of astronauts’ physical changes can even help us understand how life on Earth evolved. In addition, scientists are also expected to learn more about the diseases or disorders that humans may suffer from in the process.
Whether it’s the effects of space on bones, muscles, or the human brain or even other parts of the world, our understanding is still limited.
Even in this study, the effect of microgravity on cerebrospinal fluid circulation is still inconclusive, let alone what effects the shape change of the channel network will have on the human body. The data of 15 astronauts is far from enough for scientists to conclude that more astronauts, or even samples of older astronauts, will be needed in the future before scientists can achieve some research results.
With the development of human spaceflight technology, more and more people will be able to go to space in the future, and even the time spent in space will be extended in the future. Especially for the mission to Mars, each astronaut may have to “travel” in space for about 3 years. It is also worth thinking about what effects such a task will have on the body.
In any case, those who dare to go to space put their own safety behind to carry out space missions and help us understand the possible harm that space can cause to the human body. From this point of view, they are the warriors of mankind.
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