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Keeping the suicidal soldier alive
Date:9/2/2009

redict which soldier is more prone to exhibit after exposure combat-related stress symptoms symptoms that can trigger PTSD or major depression.

The TAU researchers measured the levels of "stress symptoms" twice: first when the soldiers were drafted, then again a year-and-a-half later, during their active duty in combat units. The soldiers were also asked a series of questions evaluating their experience in the army. With this data, researchers developed predictive brain measurements for whether or not a soldier would develop stress.

Having such an early biological marker, says Prof. Hendler, means that diagnosis and treatment can begin immediately following exposure to situational trauma. It is the first fMRI-based study in the world to measure brain activation under stress over a long period of time with respect to prior to stress.

Catching a soldier before he falls

"Looking at the part of the brain called the amygdala, we were able to predict how many stress symptoms of PTSD an individual soldier would develop," says Prof. Hendler. She notes that other brain activity was modified by the stress giving indications of the appropriate intensity and approach of treatment after the stress and trauma set in. Prof. Hendler is currently planning a larger study in this direction.

While Prof. Hendler doesn't believe that the fMRI should be used prejudicially to weed soldiers from certain units, she says that it does give specialists a new set of clues as to how to treat soldiers early and effectively, decreasing the rates of military suicide. This field of science is applied in a growing specialty known as "personalized medicine."

"This tool can help provide tailored therapy to the afflicted and at a very early stage could identify the extreme cases that might otherwise go unnoticed," says Prof. Hendler.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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