Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Virtual Iraq' Simulation To Study Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Date:
May 15, 2007
Source:
Weill Cornell Medical College
Summary:
Researchers are using a virtual reality simulation called Virtual Iraq to better understand how symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develop. In their ongoing research trial, participating Iraq War and Gulf War veterans with and without PTSD are shown a brief, 3-D virtual-reality simulation of an urban combat scenario. They wear a headset, through which they hear, see, and -- using a keypad -- "move" through a 'virtual world' in which images change in a natural way along with head and body movement.

Weill Cornell Medical College researchers are using a virtual reality simulation called "Virtual Iraq" to better understand how symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develop. In their ongoing research trial, participating Iraq War and Gulf War veterans with and without PTSD are shown a brief, 3-D virtual-reality simulation of an urban combat scenario. They wear a headset, through which they hear, see, and — using a keypad — "move" through a "virtual world" in which images change in a natural way along with head and body movement.

A recent Archives of Internal Medicine study found that as many as 13 percent of recent veterans are diagnosed with PTSD.

The Weill Cornell researchers are testing whether physiological arousal (heart rate, stress hormones) and anxiety while viewing the simulation — as well as suppressing memories after viewing the simulation — affect the ability to remember the scenario and suppress intrusive scenario memories.

The study's principal investigator, Dr. Loretta Malta, a clinical psychologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, states: "It isn't possible after a traumatic event to study, in a controlled way, conditions that lead to the development of specific types of PTSD symptoms. Usually this is studied by comparing people who develop PTSD months or even years after trauma exposure. With this pilot study, we are trying to develop a paradigm in which we can use virtual reality to learn more about how the responses of people exposed to trauma contribute to the development of PTSD re-experiencing symptoms, like intrusive memories or physiological reactivity to trauma reminders. By better understanding how PTSD symptoms develop, we hope to create effective prevention programs and improve current treatments."

The researchers are testing the hypothesis that verbalizing the traumatic experience, instead of suppressing it, enables patients to better integrate the experience into regular conscious memory, in turn, making the triggering of intrusive traumatic memories (and other re-experiencing symptoms, like flashbacks) less likely. "Research suggests that memories formed during trauma exposure are easily cued by environmental stimuli, and memory suppression has been associated with the development, maintenance and severity of PTSD," adds Dr. Malta.

One of every 10 persons will develop PTSD during their lifetime, potentially resulting in chronic distress and debilitation. Exposure to aversive events evokes the release of stress hormones and neurotransmitters that, in animal models, have been shown to facilitate the learning of highly persistent conditioned fear associations and responses.

The study includes a diagnostic assessment of PTSD and other mental health problems, and veterans in need of treatment are provided with treatment referrals. It is open to Iraq War or Gulf War English-speaking veterans, aged 18 to 55, with and without PTSD. A total of 44 patients will be recruited throughout 2007.

The "Virtual Iraq" virtual-reality environment was developed by Dr. Albert Rizzo of the University of Southern California (USC) Creative Technologies Laboratory and Ken Graap of Virtually Better, Decatur, Ga., with funding from the U.S. Naval Research Office.

Co-investigators include Drs. JoAnn Difede, Margaret Altemus, Cezar Giosan, Lauren Szkodny, Mary-Denise Cancellare and Katarzyna Wyka — all of Weill Cornell Medical College.

For more information, patients may call (866) 697-6397.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Weill Cornell Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Weill Cornell Medical College. "'Virtual Iraq' Simulation To Study Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070514155402.htm>.
Weill Cornell Medical College. (2007, May 15). 'Virtual Iraq' Simulation To Study Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070514155402.htm
Weill Cornell Medical College. "'Virtual Iraq' Simulation To Study Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070514155402.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins