How the brain reacts to zero gravity has been a matter of conjecture for a long time. Now NASA is undertaking a series of tests to determine the effects of spaceflight on neurocognitive performance and to check whether spaceflight causes any changes to the brain's ability to multitask and its structure and function, among other aspects.
During the tests, astronauts will go through timed obstacle courses, tests of their spatial memory, ability to mentally picture and manipulate a three-dimensional shape before and after flights to give researchers a chance to observe changes in the brain.
The brain's ability to manipulate and store information will be tested with the help of spatial memory tests, which will be conducted at the ISS (International Space Station). In addition the astronauts will take part in sensory-motor tests and computerized exercises which will test their abilities to multitask, reports The TeCake.
"We are looking at the volume of different structures in the brain and whether they change in size or shape during spaceflight," Rachael D Seidler, the principal investigator and director of University of Michigan's neuromotor behavior laboratory, said in a statement, reports The Indian Express. "On Earth, your vestibular - or balance - system tells you how your head moves relative to gravity, but in space, the gravity reference is gone. That causes these perceptual illusions, as well as difficulty coordinating movement of the eyes and head."
"Results from the neuromapping investigation will provide information on the brain's ability to rewire and remodel in response to new stimuli," NASA said.