Navigation Links
Combat Stress Linked to Brain Changes in Study
Date:9/4/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to combat stress can have subtle, long-lasting effects on brain wiring, although most war-related brain changes clear up with time, a small Dutch study found.

Researchers evaluating 33 healthy soldiers just back from deployment in Afghanistan found that problems with concentration during complex thinking tasks were common early on, but eventually improved.

But, subtle changes involving brain circuitry appeared longer-lasting.

"Almost a quarter of soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan experience some difficulty in social and operational functioning," said lead researcher Guido van Wingen, from the Brain Imaging Center at the University of Amsterdam.

"What we wanted to know is how that could be related to brain function," he said.

For the study, published online Sept. 3 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, van Wingen's team looked at members of the NATO International Security Assistance Force peacekeeping operation, before and six weeks after a four-month deployment in Afghanistan.

The investigators compared these soldiers with 26 soldiers who were never deployed. A year and a half later, they followed up.

Using neuropsychological tests and functional MRI, the researchers did identify changes in brain function, specifically in the midbrain, van Wingen said.

The prolonged stress of armed combat, enemy fire and explosions initially interfered with the ability to concentrate during complicated tasks, but after 18 months the ability to sustain attention returned, the study found.

"The brain rapidly adapted to the situation in Afghanistan, but changes back when it returns to a safe environment," van Wingen said. "This shows how plastic the brain is and that's reassuring to know."

However, changes to the connections between the midbrain and the prefrontal cortex persisted at the 18-month follow-up, suggesting combat stress might have long-lasting effects on brain wiring, the researchers added. How these changes might affect people long-term isn't known, van Wingen noted.

It's possible that the long-term changes in connectivity could make the soldiers vulnerable to future stressors, which could in turn affect their social lives and employment, the researchers said.

Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said the study is valuable.

"This study is important because while it is clear that prolonged stress increases the risk of psychiatric symptoms like PTSD symptoms, and negatively impacts mental functioning -- problems with sustained attention and memory -- it has been unclear whether these deficits are a cause or consequence of one another, or are caused by the stress itself, a preexisting neural abnormality, or some combination of these factors," said Rego.

While these researchers found combat stress had a negative impact on sustained attention due to functional and structural changes in the brain, the good news is that at the long-term follow-up they found that the brain areas of these soldiers had largely recovered from the adverse effects of stress, Rego said.

This suggests that the human brain can largely overcome the damage caused by prolonged stress, he said.

"Unfortunately, the bad news is that the way certain parts of the brain interacted with other parts of the brain did not show the same recovery," Rego said.

"This may make these individuals more vulnerable to stressors they face in the future, which in turn may ultimately play a role in the development of psychiatric symptoms -- as opposed to being a consequence of them," he added.

More information

For more information on stress, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Guido van Wingen, Ph.D., Brain Imaging Center, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Simon A. Rego, Psy.D., director of psychology training, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Sept. 3, 2012, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. UCLA researchers combat global disease with a cell phone, Google Maps and a lot of ingenuity
2. For Combat Vets, Brain Injury Symptoms Can Last Years
3. Local Woodinville Contractor, Washington State Kitchen and Bath, Combats Toxic Mold, Adhering to the Toughest Mold Protection Standards in the Nation with New Promotion
4. Undergrads invent cell phone screener to combat anemia in developing world
5. Couples Therapy May Help Combat PTSD
6. New technology combats global pandemic of drug counterfeiting
7. Simple new test to combat counterfeit drug problem in developing countries
8. Global study suggests need for strategies to combat unhealthy lifestyles among the poor and the rich
9. Positive stress helps protect eye from glaucoma
10. Scientists identify major source of cells defense against oxidative stress
11. Stress contributes to cognitive declines in women with breast cancer, researcher says
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Combat Stress Linked to Brain Changes in Study 
(Date:10/13/2017)... Ky. (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... The ... MPH to become its next President and Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Dr. James C. ... CEO Elect beginning July 1, 2018 until Dr. Puffer’s retirement at the end of ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes , which specializes in the delivery of sub-acute ... of a disaster drill on October 3rd. , Apple Rehab participated with the Shelton ... well as the Connecticut Long Term Care Mutual Aid Plan (LTC-MAP). The LTC-MAP ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House of Yahweh, has released a ... books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. The Book of Revelation paints a picture of ... have tossed it off as mere rubbish, but Yisrayl Hawkins says that is because ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... advisory services for healthcare compliance program management, will showcase a range of technology ... Association for Assisted Living (NCAL) Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... ... The American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) will present the 2017 Morris F. ... AMIA’s Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. AMIA’s Annual Symposium is taking place ... the field of medical informatics, this prestigious award is presented to an individual whose ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... , Oct. 11, 2017  Caris Life Sciences ® ... fulfilling the promise of precision medicine, today announced that ... Caris, Precision Oncology Alliance™ (POA) as its 17 th ... the St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute will help develop ... use of tumor profiling, making cancer treatment more precise ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Oct. 10, 2017  NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in May ... battery-powered display stand specifically designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative secondary ... a clinical solution to support the improvement of patient outcomes, procedural ... ... ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... Ill. , Oct. 5, 2017  In ... Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) released ... opioids – to be used as a first-line ... pain. Recognizing ... the AAOMS White Paper "Opioid Prescribing: Acute and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: