Effects of spaceflight on the EEG alpha power and functional connectivity

Abstract

Abstract Electroencephalography (EEG) can detect changes in cerebral activity during spaceflight. This study evaluates the effect of spaceflight on brain networks through analysis of the Default Mode Network (DMN)'s alpha frequency band power and functional connectivity (FC), and the persistence of these changes. Five astronauts' resting state EEGs under three conditions were analyzed (pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight). DMN’s alpha band power and FC were computed using eLORETA and phase-locking value. Eyes-opened (EO) and eyes-closed (EC) conditions were differentiated. We found a DMN alpha band power reduction during in-flight (EC: p < 0.001; EO: p < 0.05) and post-flight (EC: p < 0.001; EO: p < 0.01) when compared to pre-flight condition. FC strength decreased during in-flight (EC: p < 0.01; EO: p < 0.01) and post-flight (EC: ns; EO: p < 0.01) compared to pre-flight condition. The DMN alpha band power and FC strength reduction persisted until 20 days after landing. Spaceflight caused electrocerebral alterations that persisted after return to earth. Periodic assessment by EEG-derived DMN analysis has the potential to become a neurophysiologic marker of cerebral functional integrity during exploration missions to space

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