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How does gravity affect brain function? © NASA

How does gravity affect brain function?

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Does a lighter head makes thoughts fly high - or are we smarter down to Earth?

Asked by: Finbar Murphy, Zambia

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Our brains have obviously evolved to work in Earth’s gravity. Experiments on the International Space Station suggest that our brains have an internal model of how gravity works that we use to accurately predict where a ball will be when we move to catch it. In a weightless environment, the ball moves at a constant speed, instead of a constant acceleration, and so our reactions are slightly off. Gravity also affects the flow of blood through the brain; at accelerations beyond 5g, this begins to affect the brain’s electrical activity, producing patterns that resemble epileptic seizures.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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