A new study revealed that exposure to deep space radiations could have an impact on the brain. In the research, male mice were exposed to radiation similar to that encountered by humans on long space missions. After being exposed, these mice showed signs of impaired spatial learning.
So before colonizing the Moon or traveling to Mars, scientists will have to find a way to protect astronauts from these radiations.
For investigating the impact of deep space travel on the nervous system, researchers exposed mice to chronic, low dose radiation for six months. Researchers discovered that the radiation exposure impaired cellular signaling in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. This all resulted in learning and memory impairments. Not only that, but mice also showed increased anxiety behaviors, which indicates that the radiation also impacted the amygdala.
The researchers conducted several tests to come to these conclusions. Researchers observed that male mice made more mistakes than those who were not exposed to radiation. However, female mice did not show any mistakes.
Researchers also discovered that a diet designed to deplete microglia (immune cells in the brain) prevented spatial learning impairment.