Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with related learning dysfunctions may have a greater chance in overcoming memory, attention, and learning difficulties through the use of a portable brain-mapping device that maps brain activity’s failures, suggests a multidisciplinary study conducted by UT Arlington researchers recently published in NeuroImage: Clinical.
According to Hanli Liu, Bioengineering Professor and one of the leading researchers, the use of this near-infrared spectroscopy in veterans with PTSD provides not only the information about the brain areas that “fail to memorize or recall learned knowledge,” but also “shows how PTSD can affect the way we learn and our ability to recall information.”
Equipped with the data, and “based on where the person is on the learning scale,” researchers can “customize a treatment best suited for an individual,” says Alexa Smith-Osborne, Associate Professor of social work at UT Arlington and another member of the team who conducted the study.
As reported by Medical Express, Liu-Osborne’s team, which is associated with UT Austin psychology professor Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, Psychology Professor Carol North, UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Veterans Administration North Texas Health Care System, gathered a group of 16 veterans with diagnosed PTSD and revealing some cognitive damage and related deficient academic performance. They were asked to perform a number of activities while being monitored with the near-infrared spectroscopy.
The first results suggested that the veterans were less likely to recall those tasks than people in a control group with no PTSD diagnostic. In addition, the research team could access their levels of cognitive impairment.
Through the data, researchers were able to decide which area should be worked on in each one of the individuals. After working under new therapies, the group submitted to new tests with the near-infrared spectroscopy and, according to Smith-Osborne, “data have shown improvement in brain functions and responses.” With the results of this study, Smith-Osborne has been working on recommendations for some veterans who desire to return to college.
Research on PTSD has accelerated of late and is of utmost concern, not only for researchers and veterans associations, but for the U.S. government as well. With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many military staff and their families have been severely affected by the disorder. At the same time, brain mapping seems to be a point of interest to researchers. As previously reported on BioNews Texas, Dr. John Hart from UT Dallas, has been working in this area, hoping it may save lives through the knowledge of how the brain works and how traumas can be overcome.