Image credit: University of Texas Health Science Center Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which manifests itself in disturbing flashbacks, nightmares, paranoid behavior, and expressions of anger and hostility, had been medically diagnosed by empirical methods and by, essentially, ruling everything else out. Until now.
The groundbreaking study of an objective method to diagnose and/or confirm PTSD, conducted by researchers from the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Minnesota, is published in today's Journal of Neural Engineering.
Researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG), the relatively new kid on the medical diagnostic block, to study the brains of two groups of individuals: 1) 74 veterans who served in WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq and had been diagnosed with PTSD behaviors; and 2) 240 persons from the general public who had not been diagnosed with any neurological or psychological disorder.
MEG, which measures the magnetic fields in the brain, was capable of differentiating the brains of PTSD from non-PTSD subjects with 90 percent accuracy, using a synchronous neural interactions test, an analysis of magnetic connections between neurons. This test established, for the first time, a biomark for PTSD, something with MRI, CT, and X-ray were not able to do.
Though additional larger studies will be conducted, the likelihood that MEG will become the standard objective diagnostic test for determining PTSD is high. The test can also measure how severe the patients are impacted by the disease, which can help determine methods of treatment.
MEG has been used to detect very fine distinctions in brain activity, like Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and auditory and verbal disturbances.
Journal of Neural Engineering via EurekAlert!