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U researchers find possible key to PTSD

Researchers at the Medical School and Minneapolis VA Health Care System have discovered a correlation between increased circuit activity in the right side of the brain and the debilitating flashbacks triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The ability to objectively diagnose PTSD through Brain images showing active PTSD (top), and PTSD in remission (bottom). (Images courtesy of Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.) concrete evidence ofneural activity is the first step toward effectively helping those afflicted with this severe anxiety disorder.

Using a technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG), a noninvasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain, researchers found differences between signals in the temporal and parieto-occipital right hemispheric areas of the brain in people who have PTSD. The temporal cortex is thought to be responsible for reliving experiences.

The research, led by Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Engdahl, Ph.D., was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering and was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

It’s a significant discovery, Georgopoulos says, because the MEG tests reveal a clear difference in circuit activity in the brains of PTSD sufferers compared with healthy people — something conventional brain scans such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs have failed to do.

The researchers say that the technology also can indicate the severity of a patient’s suffering, which means that it could potentially be used to gauge how severely patients are affected by other brain disorders as well.

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