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“A disease characterized by mental instability and irrational behavior. Typically, its onset is seen only in those people who have a natural predisposition to the disease and only after they enter outer space. There are no known ways of detecting space dementia prior to space travel. Only mild cases of space dementia have been reported as of yet, and as a result some have postulated that the disease does not actually exist. However, due to the small sample size of people who have spent time in outer space, medical experts have not yet ruled out the existence of the disease.”
The loss of intellectual functions (such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning) of sufficient severity to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions. Symptoms may also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression.
Mental deterioration due to physical changes in the brain.
Space Dementia: Fact or Fiction?
Mars mission Risk 29: Radiation-Induced Brain Damage
Among the gravest risks of a manned flight to Mars ranks the possibility that massive amounts of solar and cosmic radiation will decimate the brains of astronauts, leaving them in a vegetative state, if they survive at all.
Dubbed "Risk 29" by NASA's Mars scientists, the cosmic radiation risk remains a show-stopper because shielding a spacecraft from all radiation could make it too heavy to reach Mars, which, at its closest, is 38 million miles from earth.
Now, medical scientists have been tasked to determine the human brain's maximum safe cosmic radiation dose and to decipher precisely how radiation causes cognitive impairment, part of a quest for biological countermeasures to reduce radiation-related cognitive impairment.
The NASA-funded $14-million research project could not only help eliminate the risks to astronauts, it could unravel the biomechanics of brain damage, potentially benefiting patients with degenerative neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
"This research may not only help make it safer to go to Mars, it could lead us to a deeper understanding of how the brain functions," said one of the principal investigators, Richard A. Britten, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology and biophysics at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va. "That eventually could help patients dealing with conditions that cause dementia."