Space travel puts astronauts in great danger, as microgravity has a huge impact on their brain. Too much exposure to this phenomenon leads to the development of a neurological condition, the visual impairment and intracranial pressure syndrome. The main effect microgravity has on the brain is the fact that it moves upwards in the cranium.
Astronauts develop VIIP after returning from space
About 40 percent of astronauts who have been on missions in space return with several types of neurological disorders. After being exposed to microgravity, the brain starts floating in the cerebrospinal fluid, and moving upwards, toward the top of the cranium. This phenomenon affects the top of the brain, which is in control of sight.
As a result, many astronauts which return from space experience migraines, blurry vision, high pressure inside their head, and the swelling of the optic disks. This is exactly what NASA calls visual impairment and intracranial pressure syndrome (VIIP).
To make this discovery, researchers performed brain scans on 34 astronauts both before and after they returned from their space travels. Half of them had only been on short travels lasting only several weeks, while the other half had spent around two years on the International Space Station.
Microgravity has different effects on each individual astronauts
Those who had traveled for a shorter period of time suffered no changes in their brain. However, researchers couldn’t say the same for the other half. Fortunately, the brain can return to normal as soon as the astronaut gets back on Earth, and becomes accustomed again to the new conditions.
However, something interesting can happen to some astronauts, as not all of them experience these kinds of changes in their vision and intracranial pressure. Researchers cannot tell why, but they assume some of them are more sensitive and likely to develop VIIP. Even so, knowing about the effects of microgravity on the brain can improve the future of space travel.
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