Home Funtastic The long duration of the space journey causes astronaut brain to expand: Study

The long duration of the space journey causes astronaut brain to expand: Study

by the owl speaks

Long-duration space travel could lead to irreversible changes in astronaut’s brain volume as well as deformation of the pituitary gland, a study warns.
The researchers conducted brain MRI on 11 astronauts, including 10 men and one woman, before they flew to the International Space Station (ISS), published in the journal Radiology.
“What we found that no one has ever observed before is that there is a substantial change in volume in the white matter of the brain from preflight to postflight,” said lead author of the report, Larry Kramer of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, USA.
According to the study, the researchers followed up after the astronauts returned conducting similar tests, and then at several intervals throughout the ensuing year.
The MRI results showed that the long-duration microgravity exposure had caused expansions in the combined brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volumes of the astronauts. A CSF is a fluid that flows in and around the hollow spaces of the brain and spinal cord.
The combined volumes remained elevated even after one year postflight, suggesting permanent alteration.
“White matter expansion, in fact, is responsible for the largest increase in combined brain and cerebrospinal fluid volumes postflight,” Kramer said.
Chronic exposure to elevated intracranial pressure during spaceflight is hypothesized to be a contributing factor.
MRI also revealed pituitary gland modifications, a pea-sized organ at the base of the skull sometimes referred to as the “master gland” because it regulates the role of several other glands inside the body.
Most astronauts had MRI evidence of deformation of the hypophyseal gland indicating elevated intracranial pressure during spaceflight.
“We noticed the pituitary gland to lose height and to be smaller in postflight than preflight,” Kramer said.
Following long-term exposure to space microgravity, more than half of crew members on the ISS reported improvements in their vision.

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