Zero gravity can do some pretty unnerving things to a human brain — like make astronauts lose all concept of spatiality or even make it impossible for astronauts in space to finish up their given assignments. The reasons for this change can be a bit unclear, and as a result, NASA is launching an initiative to learn the causes.
What makes this even more of an imperative study — even more so to NASA — is the effect that zero gravity seems to have on decision-making: apparently, it is "harder to think" in space than it is on a planet (which, of course, comes with a complimentary gravitational pull). Poor judgment skills or a sheer inability to complete a given order can have disastrous results in the middle of a deep space mission, where quick thinking in times of danger can be the key to life or death.
NASA plans to track and/or detect any possible changes through regular MRIs — astronauts will undergo scans before and after every mission — as well as complete various tests to measure coordination and cognizance while up in space (or, as in pretty much every case, on board the International Space Station).
The government space administration's plan has an extra benefit: their study will also be of aid to individuals undergoing chemotherapy, who experience similar symptoms in treatment.
Photo: Marcin Wichary | Flickr