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Investigating the Effects of Weightlessness on the Cingulate Cortex-Diencephalon Connection


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According to medical experts, the severity of the changes caused by weightlessness is no more effective and dangerous than any adaptation to severe conditions.

Russian and foreign doctors followed the effect of weightlessness on the brain function of 13 Russian cosmonauts and found that prolonged exposure to weightlessness leads to a weakening of the connections between the cingulate cortex and the human diencephalon.

The information office of the Higher School of Economics at the National Research University notes that this will help scientists develop exercises to adapt the brain of astronauts to space travel and life on Earth.

A university source says: “There was a decrease in the strength of the connections to different areas of the brain in the posterior cingulate gyrus. These changes persisted even eight months after the trip. may be indicative of general brain effects of adaptation to unfamiliar sensations under spaceflight conditions.”

And he adds: a long stay in space leads to a change in the nature of the connections between the thalamus and other parts of the brain.

For many years, scientists have studied the impact of life in space on the health and function of human and animal body parts. For example, it became clear to them many years ago that being in space for a long period leads to irreversible weakness of the muscles of the back, and also leads to roundness of the heart.

A group of Russian and foreign doctors led by Professor Floris Fitz from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, discovered a number of other changes in the brains of astronauts during their long stay in weightlessness. The researchers detected these changes using MRI images of the brains of 13 Russian cosmonauts who traveled to the International Space Station in 2014-2020.

In addition, the researchers found a marked increase in the number of connections between the angular gyri of the brain, as well as shifts in the pattern of connections between the insula and other areas of the brain. In their opinion, this testifies to the adaptation of the brain of astronauts to movement and navigation in weightless conditions. But rest assured that some of these changes will disappear after returning to Earth.

“These changes are functional in nature, and their severity does not exceed the risk of any adaptation to difficult conditions,” says Ekaterina Pechenkova, senior researcher at the National Research University, “after all, people with extreme professions and hobbies have the same risk in relation to the brain.” Therefore, the main activity for us is to use this knowledge to develop exercises that will accelerate the adaptation of astronauts before and after space flight.”

Source: TASS

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