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 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.
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.