Long-term exposure to deep-space radiation can damage astronauts' brains, a new study suggests.
Space radiation will take a toll on astronauts' brains during the long , a new study suggests.
Mice exposed for six months to the prevalent in interplanetary space exhibited serious memory and learning impairments, and they became more anxious and fearful as well, the study reports.
"This is not a deal-breaker for space travel, but when you send astronauts up there, you have to be prepared for what some of the consequences are for being exposed to these radiation fields," said study co-author Charles Limoli, a professor of radiation oncology at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine.
Using a neutron-irradiation facility, they exposed 40 mice to 1 milligray of radiation per day (1 mGy/day) for six months, about the same dose and duration that astronauts would experience on a trip to or from .
But the low radiation doses employed suggest that the impacts are probably not the result of cell death or DNA damage, Limoli said.
The effects of chronic radiation exposure "would probably manifest in a scenario where the astronauts have to deal with some unanticipated event where there's some on-the-spot decision-making or problem-solving involved," Limoli said.