In Microgravity, Astronauts Will Wear Brain-Tracking Helmets

In Microgravity, Astronauts Will Wear Brain-Tracking Helmets
Ax-1 astronauts will have some equipment that looks like it came from a sci-fi film.
Brain.space

Four brave people are about to go into space. For 10 days, they’ll live on the International Space Station as part of the Axiom-1 mission, which is a new way to put the first all-private crew on the space station.

On liftoff day, which is set for Friday, we’ll see NASA’s Kennedy Space Center lead the team through a historic countdown. But behind the scenes, a quartet of biological control centers will also be on high alert.

The astronauts’ brains will be working hard to keep them sharp for a long trip. As soon as they leave Earth’s atmosphere, those important organs will have to keep working in microgravity, which can change brain tissue, so they won’t stop.

“There are two enormous mysteries for humankind. One is space, and one is the mind.” 

Yair Levy, Brain.space CEO

Brain.space, an Israeli startup in the field of neuroscience, wants to make sure that all the cool, brainy things about that big change are recorded.

The co-founder and CEO of Brain.space told over Skype that “every organ is being measured in space, except this one.” Yair Levy is the co-founder and CEO of Brain.space. “We’re going to try to figure out if the brain can adapt to a new homeostasis in space.”

On Ax-1’s SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, Brain.space will send a special helmet into space with the four people who will be on the flight.

A machine that can read brain activity data in real-time has been built. This machine can do this. It also looks like armor from ancient times, but with a lot of electrical sensors covering the inside.

Here’s what it’ll look like on.
Brain.space

When the Ax-1 crew wears the helmet before, during, and after liftoff, they will do cognitive tests. Their brain data will be available to anyone who wants to look at it when it’s done and they are done. That means experts from all over the world can use this experimental evidence to figure out how the human mind changes when it’s in danger from microgravity.

What do we know about this right now?

People don’t know two big things about the world, Levy said. Space and the mind are two things.

Human brains in the empty space


When it comes to how microgravity affects the human body, there is a lot of information out there so far, but most of it focuses on things like muscle mass weakening or bone density loss.

It might be hard for us to reach new places in the universe because we don’t know enough about how the brain works.

If we want to set up moon bases, live on Mars, or even find resources on asteroids, we need to know how our minds will fare in harsh space environments.

Human brains in the empty space
An illustration of a moon base concept from 1969 shows what it might look like.
NASA

Despite what we know about how fluid dynamics and weightlessness affect our body’s central nervous system, “the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the [central nervous system] and the resulting impact on crew health and operational performance remain largely unknown.” This is what a review in the journal Nature published in 2021.

“Shreds of evidence show that MRI scans of astronauts after long-term missions show that their bodies have changed over time. In reality, we don’t know anything about what happens to the brain when people go into space.”

People have learned some things about how our brains change when we’re in space. However, they’ve usually had to come up with new ways to do their experiments in order to get more detailed information. Some people have tried to simulate weightlessness on the ground to see how volunteers’ brains change, and other people have done microgravity experiments on rats. But neither of these angles shows us what the real thing is. There’s a gap in the research, and it might have been there for a long time because brain scanning equipment isn’t very portable or easy to use right now.

They use magnetic fields and radio waves to make detailed pictures of the brain, but they’re too big to send into space because they are too heavy. Electronic brain wave instruments or EEG sensors are much smaller than they used to be, but they also come with their own challenges.

Measures brain activity with an electric field that neurons make, but “this process is really dependent on the skill of the operator, and the signal is not very good,” said Levy. If you’re in space, you might not be able to have astronauts, most of whom aren’t doctors, work an EEG and send brain information back to Earth.

That’s where the Brain.space team’s new technology comes in. An EEG is like one that is easy to use.

The EEG 2.0


To make Brain.space’s “world’s most efficient, cheap, and easy-to-use EEG device,” Levy needs a computer, a microchip, and some toothbrush bristles to make it work.

During their time on Ax-1, three of the four astronauts will wear the sci-fi-looking helmet that has 460 electrical sensors and a bunch of toothbrush bristles. They’ll each wear it once. These bristles make it easier for each sensor to touch the wearer’s skin so that the best brain data can be gathered.

It took a lot of “ingenuity” to make the hardware work, said Levy as he showed me how to plug each sensor into the helmet. “And, “boom,” he said when he was done. “It’s easy.”

The EEG 2.0
These helmets will collect data on Ax-1 astronauts’ brain activity before, during, and after their trip to the ISS.
Brain.space

While wearing the helmet, each astronaut will take computer-based cognitive tests. They will use sensors to pick up electrical signals from their brains when they press a button during the tests that are being done at the time. In about 10 to 15 minutes, these signals will be recorded on a microchip that’s also in the helmet. The whole process, Levy says, will take about that long.

It will then be put into a computer, and Brain.space algorithms will go through it all and turn it into information that everyone can understand. Each member of the crew will do the whole thing three times during the whole mission, Levy says.

Each toothbrush bristle sensor in the helmet may be seen here.
Brain.space

Brain.space’s cognitive tests are also connected to a laptop on the International Space Station, which will send chip data back to Earth when the tests are done in space. Though the last part is a little hard.

“We need to plan this because we need to know which satellites it will bounce off of. All of the things in this world are so complicated that they could be from space “Levy said that.

Brain mysteries that go beyond space


He and his team didn’t know that one day they would be looking up at the sky with NASA. As a matter of fact, Levy said that the company was never meant to be a hardware company that made brain monitoring helmets.

In the beginning, “our main goal is to help people down here,” Levy said.

The startup’s goal is to make brain activity data understandable and easy to get hold of for doctors, researchers, and even people who want to make apps or products that are related to the brain.

That’s why Levy says that the software they use to collect data is at the heart of what they do.

This is what they’ll find when they look at brain data from the Ax-1 crew, for example. They’ll find a user-friendly application programming interface, known as an API. Levy: “The goal is to make it as easy to integrate brain activity as it is to use a Stripe API, or to plug in your full fitness data from your Apple Watch. “

Brain.space data-collecting technologies have the potential to change the way we construct brain-based apps.
Brain.space

“We currently follow all privacy laws, and the data we get from volunteers is completely anonymous,” he said, explaining why all the brain data can be made public. “We look at things like age, hand dexterity (left or right), gender, and the data labeling that comes from the task that we do when we get data.”

Levy looks into the future and compares his vision of Brain.space to how GPS systems around the world have changed. He says that Brain.space’s data collection algorithms are like navigation systems.

A lot of people thought it was great that the iPhone had the first GPS chip. But no one could have thought of Uber, home delivery, or online dating that used geolocation.

With so much brain data available, who can say what new ideas will come up, whether they come from a doctor, a video game developer, an academic researcher, or a person who works with big data. Honestly, there are so many ways to do things.

But right now, the team is focusing on the first big use of their technology: finding out what happens to the human brain when it’s in space.

Nervous is what Levy says when I ask him how he feels about the launch. But he quickly adds “pride.” People will soon be able to look into the universe farther than ever before thanks to Brain.space’s brain helmet, which will soon be on the ISS.

Also Read:

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9 Weird Theories About the Universe Proposed by So-Called Experts

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