Gravity affects the nervous system of living organisms. This book chapter reviews historical and recent findings on how changes in gravity affect cellular and subcellular parameters of human and animal cells as well as the timing and shaping of complex sensorimotor responses. With an emphasize on weightlessness, partial, and hypergravity conditions, the gravity dependencies of living organisms have been manifested on different levels of organization, ranging from changes in biophysical properties of single cells to the intact nervous system. An effort has been made to integrate the various findings into a consistent model for a better understanding of how the components of the nervous system interact as a response to acute and long-term gravitational variation. Especially with planned long-term manned missions to Mars and beyond, knowledge about the impact of increased and decreased gravity on the nervous system is essential for the physical and cognitive preparation to assure the success of space missions and human survival in space.
Part of the book: Into Space