Spaceflight is exciting, inspirational, unifying—and unfortunately tough on the human body. Now, new research shows that long-duration space missions also affect the human brain by reducing the amount of grey matter and increasing the volume of cerebrospinal fluid.
In a study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, a team led by University of Antwerp neuroscientist Floris Wuyts outline the results of brain imaging tests administered on ten Russian cosmonauts.
The cosmonauts underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans directly before they served on the ISS, and roughly nine days after their return to Earth. Seven of the ten cosmonauts were also studied about 200 days after their flights to gauge how their brains had recovered over time. The cosmonauts were all male, with a mean age of 44, and their ISS expeditions averaged 189 days.
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