Space Neuroscience

Space neuroscience is the scientific study of the functions of the central nervous system during space flight. Living systems can integrate input from the senses to navigate in their environment and coordinate posture, locomotion, and eye movement. Gravity has an important role in controlling these functions. In weightlessness during space flight, it is difficult to integrate sensory inputs and coordinate motor responses because gravity is no longer felt during free-fall.

For example, the otolith organs of the vestibular system no longer indicate head tilt relative to gravity when standing. However, they can still feel the translation of the head during body movement. Ambiguities and changes in how gravity input is processed can potentially lead to perception errors, which affect spatial orientation and mental representation. Dysfunction of the vestibular system is common during and immediately after spaceflight, such as space motion sickness in orbit and balance disorders after return to Earth.

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