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Prolonged space travel can make human brain bigger

Date: 18 April 2020 Tags: Space


In a new paper, scientists have come to the conclusion that long-term spaceflight could actually make the human brain grow physically bigger - including white matter, grey matter and cerebrospinal fluid around the brain.



With a number of advancements taking place in space exploration and space travel, it is not difficult to imagine a future when humans might set up colonies in Moon or Mars. However, scientists are still exploring the biological impacts space might have on the human body



  • As per the study, astronauts who are on long-duration spaceflight missions may develop changes in the brain structure and function, which can remain for years after return to normal gravity.

  • Researchers performed MRI brain scans on 11 astronauts before they spent time on the International Space Station. On their return, the astronauts were scanned again and the images of both scans were compared.It was found that areas of the brains of the astronauts had physically expanded in space.

  • When one is in microgravity, fluids such as blood no longer moves towards the lower extremities but rather redistributes headwords.

  • The movement of fluid towards head may be one of the mechanisms causing changes we are observing in the eye and intracranial compartment. Researchers further found that the brain expansion persisted up to a year after the return of the astronauts.

  • This is potentially due to dysfunction of water transport in microgravity. Cerebral spinal fluid which is generated in the lateral and third ventricles and which migrates through the white matter accumulates due to this dysfunction.

  • The team is trying to combat the effects of zero gravity to prevent the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in space to help astronauts safely embark on longer spaceflights to regions that have never been explored before.

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