Brain cavities that swell in space may need at least 3 years to recover

Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 10:43 in Astronomy & Space

Spacing out spaceflights may benefit astronauts’ brains. While outside Earth’s atmosphere, fluid-filled chambers in the brains of astronauts tend to adapt to microgravity by expanding. But after a space mission, these structures might take three years to shrink back to normal, researchers report June 8 in Scientific Reports. The finding suggests that astronauts might need at least that much time between flights before their brain is ready to be in space again. At the brain’s center sit four cavities — or ventricles — brimming with liquid that cushions the organ and clears out waste. But with little gravity in space, fluids accumulate in an astronaut’s head. So the ventricles adapt by taking in more fluid and expanding, says space scientist Rachael Seidler of the University of Florida in Gainesville. Researchers knew that astronauts often return to Earth with enlarged ventricles. But Seidler and colleagues wanted to see if time spent in space or...

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