CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — An MUSC neuro-radiologist is part of a team that recently published a study analyzing the effects of long-term spaceflight on the brain.

Donna Roberts, M.D., collaborated with other scientists from the United States, Russia, and Europe to analyze data gathered on 24 American, 13 Russian, and an undisclosed, yet small, number of European astronauts.

MRI scans of the participants were taken before their journeys to space, then again after six months on the International Space Station.

While further study is needed, the data indicated that “the volume of fluid-filled channels in the brain of astronauts is linked to the development of the spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, a syndrome characterized by vision changes and whose mechanisms are still not completely clear.”

However, scientists cautioned against drawing premature conclusions, saying “it is important not to speculate about pathology or brain health problems at this time. The observed effects are very small, but there are significant changes when we compare the post-flight scans with the preflight scans.”