Calling outer space a unique environment for the human brain is a massive understatement. Floating free, with no “up” or “down,” is an experience most people don’t get to truly experience. It can also do a number on how astronauts think, making physical and mental tasks tougher.
Since the human brain changes and adapts to special circumstances here on Earth, NASA is investigating what types of changes, in either brain structure or function, might result from a stay aboard the International Space Station.
Researchers with the “Spaceflight Effects on Neurocognitive Performance: Extent, Longevity, and Neural Bases” study plan on examining these changes using both structural and functional MRI scans done before and after flight, along with cognitive tests administered at various points along the six-month mission.
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