Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said this collaborative research is "allowing the researchers to objectively measure the changes in the level of oxygen in the brain and relate them to some of the brain functions that may have been adversely affected by trauma or stress."
Numerous neuropsychological studies have linked learning dysfunctions such as memory loss, attention deficits and learning disabilities with PTSD.
The new study involved 16 combat veterans previously diagnosed with PTSD who were experiencing distress and functional impairment affecting cognitive and related academic performance. The veterans were directed to perform a series of number-ordering tasks on a computer while researchers monitored their brain activity through near infrared spectroscopy, a noninvasive neuroimaging technology.
The research found that participants with PTSD experienced significant difficulty recalling the given digits compared with a control group. This deficiency is closely associated with dysfunction of a portion in the right frontal cortex. The team also determined that near infrared spectroscopy was an effective tool for measuring cognitive dysfunction associated with PTSD.
With that information, Smith-Osborne said mental healthcare providers could customize a treatment plan best suited for that individual.
"It's not a one-size-fits-all treatment plan but a concentrated effort to tailor the treatment based on where that person is on the learning scale," Smith-Osborne said.
Smith-Osborne and Liu hope that their research results lead to better and more comprehensive care for veterans and a better college education.
|Contact: Herb Booth|
University of Texas at Arlington