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PTSD Damages The Brain—A New Device Shows How

PTSDInnovative new technology in the form of a portable brain-mapping device can show brain areas damaged by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[1] University of Texas—Arlington (UT) researchers have developed a tool to access brain activity in student veterans when they were asked to recall information from simple memorization tasks.1 The new device uses functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to map brain activity responses during cognitive activities related to digit learning and memory retrial.1

Alexa Smith-Osborne, PhD, an associate professor of social work, and bioengineering professor Hanli Liu, PhD, along with two other collaborators used the findings to guide treatment recommendations for some veterans through work as principal investigators for UT Arlington’s Student Veteran Project, which offers free services to veterans who are undergraduates or who are considering returning to college.1

“When we retest those student veterans after we’ve provided therapy and interventions, they’ve shown marked improvement,” said Smith-Osborne. “The fNIRS data have shown improvement in brain functions and responses after the student veterans have undergone treatment.”1

“It also shows how PTSD can affect the way we learn and our ability to recall information, so this new way of brain imaging advances our understanding of PTSD,” said Liu.1

Numerous neuropsychological studies have linked learning dysfunctions—such as memory loss, attention deficits, and learning disabilities—with PTSD.1

Smith-Osborne and Liu hope that their research results lead to better and more comprehensive care for veterans and a better college education.1

“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,” said Smith-Osborne.1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). New Device Shows How PTSD Damages Brain. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/06/20/new-device-shows-how-ptsd-damages-brain/71470.html

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