Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that astronauts' brains change shape during spaceflight. It is the first study to look into how the brain changes in space. Researchers looked at high-tech MRI pictures of the brains of 26 astronauts who spent time in space. Twelve of the astronauts spent two weeks on the Space Shuttle, and 14 spent six months on the International Space Station. All of them experienced increases and decreases in the size of different parts of the brain. The longer an astronaut spent in space, the bigger the size differences were.
The research produced some interesting findings. One was that no gravity means fluids do not drop in the body, so there is a shift in the brain's position inside the skull. The brain becomes either more squashed or bigger. The findings could help doctors to treat problems that affect the brain's function. They could treat people with problems caused by long-term bed rest. They could also help those who have a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can lead to brain damage. We will understand more about how neurons in the brain connect. The findings will also help future trips to Mars.