ESA image: Space-brain networking

Jun 18, 2014
Credit: University of Antwerpen

An advanced MRI scan of a human brain showing neural networks.

Humans are adaptable beings. Wear glasses continuously that turn your view of the world upside-down and inside two weeks your brain will have adapted – everything will seem normal again.

Researchers suspect that astronauts' brains adapt to living in weightlessness by using previously untapped links between neurons. As the astronauts learn to float around in their spacecraft, left–right and up–down become second nature as these connections are activated.

To confirm this theory, up to 16 will be put through advanced MRI scanners before and after their flights to study any changes in their brain structure. A control group from Antwerp, Belgium, will undergo the same scans for further comparison.

In parallel, a study is being performed on volunteers aboard aircraft flights that offer 20 seconds of weightlessness at a time.

Explore further: Expedition 40 all set to go

More information: More information can be found in the human spaceflight experiment archive.

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