Travelling into space is such a unique – and life altering experience – that it makes sense some evidence of that would be left on your brain.
Research has shown that bones lose calcium, and that eyes can become deformed in astronauts who have travelled to space.
In a new study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers studied the brains of 11 cosmonauts from the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, who had spent an average of six months at the International Space Station. The ISS orbits around the Earth, and is a site for gathering knowledge about space.
The team of researchers used MRI scans to investigate how kinds of matter in the brain would have changed. At the beginning of the study, the team reported an increase in the quantity of grey matter in the top part of the brain – which suggests that the brain moves closer to the top of the skill in microgravity, and the cerebellum, which is the area at the back and bottom of the brain, does too. Seven months later, these changes had reversed. They also found increased white matter in the cerebellum after the flight, which was the same seven months after the cosmonauts had returned to Earth.
The vision of the cosmonauts also changes too – they decreased in ‘sharpness’. This could be due to a well known condition called spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome.
Another study by NASA last year looked at the effect of spaceflight on humans, using Scott Kelly, an astronaut, and his brother, Mark, who was not. Scott lost some body mass while in space, and 7 % of his genes did not return to normal after he came back from the ISS.