Space, the next frontier
We are very proud and happy to announce our joining the investigator team of the Canadian Wayfinding experiment, led by Dr. Giuseppe Iaria (U. of Calgary), and supported by the Canadian Space Agency with collaborations from astronauts of NASA and ESA.
The Wayfinding experiment aims to discover how astronauts get their bearings and find their way around by looking at their brains while they perform spatial orientation tasks. It follows from the work on spatial orientation (or loss thereof) that Giuseppe is performing in his laboratory.
We will be supporting his team in understanding how the brain changes after spaceflight. Specifically, we want to know if there are structural or metabolic changes in the brain, different from the normal course of aging, proportional to flight duration. We also want to know if these changes are mediated by cerebrovascular lesions.
This exciting, out-of-this-world work has immediate terrestrial applications. Spatial disorientation affects many of us, while the effect of inactivity - similar to microgravity in space - make seniors particularly at risk of advanced frailty, which in turn spells trouble for cognition. Hence, any advance in our understanding of these effects, and especially how astronauts are able to overcome them, can be almost directly applied to those of us that are living down here, looking up.