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Areas of Astronauts’ Brains may take 3 years to recover due to swollen chambers

By: Tristan Chow

Have you ever wondered how space affects astronauts’ brains?

Chambers in the human brain expand in space to cope with the lower gravity. According to scientists it may take as long as 3 years for them to return to normal. Since there is low gravity in space their faces may look puffy when space travelers first arrive back at the International Space Station. The reason behind this is due to the fluids building up in an astronaut’s head during their time in space.

Extra fluids also start to find their way in the four chambers called ventricles. The chambers in your brain are filled with a liquid that cushions the brain and gets rid of cellular wastes. And the ventricles will expand as this takes in more fluid.

They took MRI scans of 30 astronauts before and after their space exploration. The information showed that the longer the mission was , the more that three of the four ventricles seemed to grow. This displayed that over time more fluid started to build up in their ventricles. Two-week spaceflights didn’t seem to have much effect on the astronauts' brains. But, both six- and 12-month missions, though, resulted in larger ventricles.

Prior to this event 18 astronauts went to space. The time since their last mission affects how much their brains changed during the new mission that the researchers were studying.

Studies even show that their ventricles grew 10 to 25 percent larger during the time in space. The growth of the ventricles is dangerous as it could result in compressing the brain. This meant that they would lose some brain tissue. Hydrocephalus is the abnormal enlargement of the brain ventricles, which means that some of the astronauts may have gotten Hydrocephalus due to their spaceflight.

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