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What does space do to the human brain? Astronauts on the ISS will wear this helmet to find out

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Image shows a EEG helmet that monitors brain activity that has been developed by an Israeli start-up and will be tested on a mission to space next week.
Image shows a EEG helmet that monitors brain activity that has been developed by an Israeli start-up and will be tested on a mission to space next week.   -   Copyright  Brain.Space
By Reuters

Three astronauts on a planned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will wear a specially-designed helmet to monitor the effects of space exploration on brain activity, the company behind the headwear said.

The 10-day mission by space-flight firm Axiom, which will be the first-ever private trip to the space station, is due to launch on April 3 with four astronauts onboard.

Data has continuously been collected on astronauts' heart rate, skin resistance, muscle mass and others in space but not yet on brain activity, Yair Levy, Chief Executive of Brain.Space, the ,

creators of the electroencephalogram (EEG)-enabled helmet, told Reuters.

"This system does not depend on any technician, does not require any preparation or any special process to wear it. [You just] just click on a button and it's done, and you can start measuring brain activity," he said.

The Brain.Space project will join 30 other experiments that will take part in the so-called Rakia Mission to the ISS.

Our vision is to create a language of the brain and to allow physicians, researchers and even app developers to use this language and to create products and services based on the brain.
Yair Levy
CEO and Co-founder, Brain.Space

Three of the four astronauts - including Israeli Eytan Stibbe - will wear the helmet, which has 460 airbrushes that connect to the scalp, and perform a number of tasks for 20 minutes a day, during which data will be uploaded to a laptop on the space station.

The tasks include a "visual oddball" test that the company says has been effective in detecting abnormal brain dynamics.

Similar studies using these tasks have been completed on Earth.

After the mission, Brain.Space will compare the EEG data to see the differences in brain activity between Earth and space.

Carrying out such experiments is a vital component in advancing human spaceflight particularly as long-term space exploration and "off-world living are within grasp".

Brain.Space, which said it raised $8.5 million (€7.6 million) in a seed funding round, bills itself as a brain infrastructure company and is working with the cognitive and brain sciences department at Israel's Ben Gurion University to transform terabytes of data into usable insights.

Levy said he hoped the space mission would be a springboard for other institutions, researchers and software developers to use its brain data platform.

"Our vision is to create a language of the brain and to allow physicians, researchers and even app developers to use this language and to create products and services based on the brain".

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Video editor • Aisling Ní Chúláin