Cosmic radiation can have altering effects on the human brain. New study shows that astronauts may suffer serious brain damage in outer space.
A new research that was published in the journal Science Advanced, has stated that astronauts that are traveling in space might suffer certain brain damage, caused by the outer space cosmic rays.
The research, conducted by Charles Limoli who is a neuroscientists at the University of California. According to the study, it seems that the dangerous outer space rays could affect the cognitive functions of astronauts.
For the experiment, researchers have put mice in several situations to verify their memory and learning skills. First, the mice were put in a box with toys, then researchers changed the place of the toys or they replaced the toy with another one.
The results of the research proved that after a period of six weeks, the brains of the mice who had been exposed to radiation presented differences compared with the brains of the mice which hadn’t been exposed.
The mice that were exposed to radiation (similar to the one emitted by space rays)showed a lowered level of curiosity, were less dynamic and new situation made them confused. The extent of the effects were surprising for the scientists as they weren’t expecting for it to happen at this magnitude.
If these results would apply to the human brain, it might become a worrying factor. Radiation provokes certain changes in the areas of the brain that are responsible for the learning ability, storing memory and that allow us to recognise new things around.
Being unable to determine whats new, leads to the diminishing of curiosity levels and is a sign of impaired cognition, explained Limoli.
This situation might affect most the humans traveling in the outer space as astronauts need to react promptly to many unanticipated events that might occur.
Space radiation is a subject to be further studied in order to fully understand this environment and what represents for the human health while traveling in space.
Technology and specially designed body suits may help to diminish the radiation exposure.While being inside the spacecraft regular clothing wouldn’t help but certain helmets or specially created areas within the ship could offer more protection. There is also being developed medication that aims to fight the altering effects that space radiation may have on the human brain.
Celestial bodies like Supernovas are the ones releasing cosmic rays. This phenomenon is caused by a stelar explosion that lightness the entire galaxy and produces just as much energy as the sun does. The rays released by these explosions can break trough spacesuits and is believed they can even break trough the human skull. Astronauts on The International Space Station are safe from the harmful presence of the rays.
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