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Ageing and space brains

ISS research on brain functioning helps combat to ageing and pathological diseases

Our brains are changing all the time – nerves and connecting cells are rearranging themselves with every new experience. In space, scientists peered inside astronauts’ head to understand how they adapt to a whole new environment. On Earth, new tools for testing spatial cognition will be of great help for our ageing brains. Living in weightlessness can be very disorienting because our Earthly perception of up or down no longer applies. It is a heavy burden on the brain and there is little knowledge on how it deals with it. Five astronauts, 62 electrodes and a huge stream of data were used to help understand how the human brain works. The astronauts completed tasks such as judging object orientation and navigating a virtual space. Neurospat provided insight into the astronauts’ occasional slips in performance. For missions to the Moon and Mars it is vital to know what happens to the brain in the long run, especially during spacewalks and operating spacecraft. This neuroscience study was possible thanks to the SURE programme, an initiative which opened up new research opportunities in space for Eastern European countries.

Scientific Experiment