Editorial Summary: Neuroscience: Space travel on the brain

The combined effects of low-gravity conditions and exposure to radiation in space may have subtle neurological and behavioral effects.

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Jul 08, 2016
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The combined effects of low-gravity conditions and exposure to radiation in space may have subtle neurological and behavioral effects. Both of these environmental factors have the potential to induce physiological changes in astronauts, but few studies have directly examined the interplay between them. Xiao Wen Mao and colleagues at Loma Linda University in the USA assessed the impact of experimental simulations of microgravity conditions and chronic exposure to low-dose gamma radiation on mice. After three weeks of simulated microgravity and low-dose radiation exposure, animals subjected to microgravity-like conditions exhibited increased exploratory and risk-taking behavior relative to controls up to 8 months, with no other apparent changes in cognitive function. The combination of microgravity and radiation was also tentatively linked with increased leakiness of the blood vessels within the brain, an effect that could adversely influence both behavior and neurological health.

Taken from the Open Access article: Long-term effects of simulated microgravity and/or chronic exposure to low-dose gamma radiation on behavior and blood–brain barrier integrity

doi:10.1038/npjmgrav.2016.19

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Emma Hedington

Senior Marketing Manager, Nature Research

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