Spaceflight impacts on shape of astronauts’ brains

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Blue shows areas of gray matter volume decrease, likely reflecting shifting of cerebrospinal fluid. Orange shows regions of gray matter volume increase, in the regions that control movement of the legs. This likely reflects brain plasticity associated with “learning how to move in microgravity”

MRIs before and after a space mission reveal expansions and compressions of astronauts’ brain during spaceflights. This is according to a novel study done by a team of researchers from University of Michigan.

The study, which is the first to examine brain structural shifts were conducted on 13 astronauts who were shuttle crew members and 14 astronauts who spent six months at space stations.