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The effect of zero-G on the brain ?

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posted on Mar, 30 2014 @ 06:09 AM
What are the effects of prolonged zero-gravity on the human body and more particularly on the brain ? That's a question I am asking myself after I read that in microgravity the heart becomes more spherical.

The hearts of astronauts become more spherical when they spend long stretches of time in space, and this change might lead to heart problems, a new study indicates.

But what are the effects on the brain ? Some think that there is a built-in model of gravity in our brain. Could it be that zero-gravity or microgravity causes the brain function that calculates gravity to act unexpectedly ?

According to neuroscientist Joe McIntyre of the College de France, the brain is so accurate because it contains an internal model of gravity. The brain, he says, seems able to anticipate, calculate and compensate for gravitational acceleration -- naturally. For instance, says McIntyre, if you place an infant safely on a glass table where he or she can see the floor below, the baby will become fearful. He's not falling, yet he expects to fall -- without any prior experience of falling. "It doesn't take much to elicit this response," he added. "It seems like a very robust, common effect that we expect a downward acceleration."

The brains of astronauts have been scanned using MRI and it shows that zero gravity can cause brain abnormalities.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a team of scientists examined the eyes and brains of 27 astronauts who have spent prolonged periods of time in space. They found optical abnormalities rather like those seen in a potentially serious condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension, in which pressure builds inside the skull due to an unknown cause. Of the subjects who had spent more than 30 days total in zero gravity, various optical abnormalities were seen, including expansion of the cerebral spinal fluid space around the optic nerve in nine astronauts (33 percent), and flattening of the rear of the eyeball in six of them (22 percent). Three (11 percent) also showed changes in the pituitary gland, which produces hormones that regulate a variety of important body functions.

We know that gravity has been and is still an important factor of evolution.

Gravitational biology is the study of the effects gravity has on living organisms. Throughout the history of the Earth life has evolved to survive changing conditions, such as changes in the climate and habitat. However, one constant factor in evolution since life first began on Earth is the force of gravity. As a consequence, all biological processes are accustomed to the ever-present force of gravity and even small variations in this force can have significant impact on the health and function of organisms

And then there is what astronauts themselves say they feel when in space.

When in space, astronauts have repeatedly reported inexplicable euphoria, a “cosmic connection” or an increased sensitivity to their place in the Universe. The experience sounds like the ultimate high, or the ultimate enlightening; it would appear that without trying, astronauts are able to attain a similar mental state as meditating Buddhist monks. So what is happening when the human body is in space? Does zero-gravity create new connections in the brain? Or is it a natural human response to the vastness of space and realizing just how small we are in comparison? What ever the reason, it looks like even when astronauts are back on solid ground, they have changed profoundly…

The question is : is it psychological, or physiological, or maybe both ?

On March 6th, 1969, Rusty Schweikart experienced a feeling that the whole universe was profoundly connected. At the time, he was on a postponed space walk outside his Apollo 9 Lunar Module, carrying out tests for the forthcoming Moon landings. Already having suffered from space sickness (hence delaying the EVA) he felt a euphoric sensation: “When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change… it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.” – Russell “Rusty” Schweikart.

Two years later, Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell (joint record holder with Alan Shepard for longest ever Moon walk of 9 hours and 17 minutes) reported experiencing an “Overview Effect”. He described the sensation gave him a profound sense of connectedness, with a feeling of bliss and timelessness. He was overwhelmed by the experience. He became profoundly aware that each and every atom in the Universe was connected in some way, and on seeing Earth from space he had an understanding that all the humans, animals and systems were a part of the same thing, a synergistic whole. It was an interconnected euphoria.

Schweikart and Mitchell’s experiences are not isolated anomalies, many other astronauts since the 1970′s have reported this Overview Effect. Andy Newberg, a neuroscientist/physician with experience in space medicine, hopes to find out whether this is an actual psychological phenomenon. Perhaps there is a medical reason for an actual change in an astronaut’s brain function when in space. What’s more, he’s noticed a psychological change in the men and women that have come back from space: “You can often tell when you're with someone who has flown in space, its palpable.” – Andy Newberg

This is why I posted this in the philosophy forum instead of the science or space exploration forum, because I am more interested in the philosophical understandings that science can give us than in the science itself, and I think philosophy without science becomes religion, and I don't want that.

Anyway, what do you think of all this ? Are you like me thinking that there may be something here ? What if for example the absence of gravity has an effect on the brain functions that produce what we call the ego ? What if there is some kind of energy field around the earth that prevents us from feeling "connected" ? What would happen to mankind if we were forced for reason x or y to live for generations without artificial gravity in space ?

posted on Mar, 30 2014 @ 07:09 AM

What if for example the absence of gravity has an effect on the brain functions that produce what we call the ego ? What if there is some kind of energy field around the earth that prevents us from feeling "connected" ? What would happen to mankind if we were forced for reason x or y to live for generations without artificial gravity in space ?

OK, well in an ideal world/universe/reality/density or whatever, I suppose I would just be a tiny ball of pleasantly coloured light hurtling through space at posssibly matter-shattering speeds but instead, here I am stuck on an internet forum with gravity and people trying to bring me down? Well....ok.... it could just be true. And maybe the hippies were onto something with all their "spaced out" jargon!

Hey, everybody needs a little personal space every once in a while.
edit on 30/3/14 by LightSpeedDriver because: Typo

posted on Mar, 30 2014 @ 09:36 AM
reply to post by gosseyn

Digging on the research you presented here...

What if for example the absence of gravity has an effect on the brain functions that produce what we call the ego ?

It kind of reminds me of the presence of feelings & absence of thoughts that I have encountered in "natural parts" of Earth...Especially at high elevations like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Mt. Kilimanjaro, etc. or even on man-made, super G-force artificial roller-coasters...although the latter is probably more associated with adrenaline rush!

What if there is some kind of energy field around the earth that prevents us from feeling "connected" ?

I think that's totally possible. See examples I cited above...

Even though I didn't "leave" Earth, the farther I get away from Earth's core, the more I feel tuned in to the universe at large!

What would happen to mankind if we were forced for reason x or y to live for generations without artificial gravity in space ?


Well, let me qualify that by saying it would take hundreds, thousands, million of years to adapt to such a opposite environment...that is, of course, IF you believe in evolution...

posted on Mar, 30 2014 @ 09:50 AM
reply to post by BurningSpearess

Yes, but what do you think about what those astronauts said they felt in space ? Do you think this is just the psychological effect of feeling small and realising that everything and everyone you know is just confined on the surface of that speck of dust we call earth, or do you think there's some kind of physiological effect, that something happens physically in our brain when we leave earth and go in space ?

And about evolution, I am more talking about cultural/social evolution, and that doesn't take millions of years.

posted on Mar, 30 2014 @ 11:19 AM
reply to post by gosseyn

There is one important factor that is, we humans are subjected to an ongoing bombardment of never ending stream of useless and distracting information that keeps us out of our own self's, we believe that this is more important that anything.

Where in space all of that outside BS is gone, only the real you is left with no outside influence.

If the hole World would shut up for an hour no TV and what not we all could experience the same thing.

Some times silence is golden, but to those that need to hear there own voice not so much..


posted on Apr, 1 2014 @ 03:25 PM
reply to post by jsettica

Yes, but that I would say is part of the psychological effect of being isolated and far away from what you have always know. I am really wondering here if there is or not a direct physiological effect when someone leaves the strong gravity of our planet.

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