While Roscosmos is discussing future manned flights to Mars, NASA plans to open the International Space Station for commercial tourism, and SpaceX is testing its Starship Mars prototype, scientists are seriously concerned about the impact of prolonged stay in space on the human body. While the effects of weightlessness on bones, muscles and the vestibular system are well known, how the human brain copes with microgravity has yet to be fully examined. IQ.HSE has compiled the latest research on this topic.
A team of researchers from Germany and Russia have demonstrated that long contraction of muscles in one hand increases involuntary reaction of the other one. Meanwhile, the time between muscle contractions in both hands decreases. The results of the study have been published in the paper ‘Inverse relationshipbetween amplitude and latency of physiological mirror activity during repetitive isometric contractions’ in Neuroscience.
Researchers from HSE University and York University have become the first to analyse the results of 82 functional neuroimaging studies on working memory mechanisms in different adult age groups. The meta-analyses showed that across studies the agreement of various areas of the prefrontal cortex decreases with ageing, suggesting reorganization of brain function during healthy aging. The results have been published in the paper ‘Meta-analyses of the n-back working memory task: fMRI evidence of age-related changes in prefrontal cortex involvement across the adult lifespan’.
The HSE Centre for Cognition and Decision Making together with a group of other Russian research centres is about to begin work on creating a mathematical model of the human brain. With its help scientists will be able to study the processes which take place in the brain and brain disease. It could be used for medical purposes in the future.