Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Functional MRI Forecasts Which Soldiers Might Be Vulnerable To Suicide

Date:
September 3, 2009
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
A researcher in Israel demonstrates that functional magnetic resonance imaging can be used to forecast which soldiers might be vulnerable to stress psychopathology.

According to a recent Washington Post study, approximately 20% of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are psychologically damaged. Among them are a substantial number with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the high rate of suicide among PTSD sufferers has become unacceptable to Army commanders and the soldiers' families.

Thanks to new research from Tel Aviv University, however, doctors will now be able to forecast a soldier's chances of falling prey to PTSD, with the chance of intervening to prevent military-related suicides.

Prof. Talma Hendler of TAU's Department of Psychology and Psychiatry and the founding director of the Tel Aviv Functional Brain Center has developed a new predictive tool for detecting at-risk soldiers. The tool will permit clinicians to diagnose and treat these soldiers immediately before the stressors of combat lead to chronic psychological problems. Studying a group of 50 Israeli soldiers — trained medics who experienced extreme stress in live combat zones — Prof. Hendler and her graduate student Roee Admon in collaboration with Col. Dr. Gad Lubin from the Israel Defense Forces were able to predict which soldiers would develop significant increases in stress symptoms such as mood decline, intrusive thoughts, and sleep disturbance.

This May, Prof. Hendler was given a special award from the U.S. Army Commanding General of Medical Research for her advances. The research was published in the August issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Metering and monitoring stress with an fMRI

Prof. Hendler's research shows functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used to forecast which soldiers might be vulnerable to stress psychopathology in the future. The non-invasive imaging method records the brain activity of military personnel before they enter active duty. Using this baseline as a reference, the researchers can predict 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Functional MRI Forecasts Which Soldiers Might Be Vulnerable To Suicide." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902122847.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2009, September 3). Functional MRI Forecasts Which Soldiers Might Be Vulnerable To Suicide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902122847.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Functional MRI Forecasts Which Soldiers Might Be Vulnerable To Suicide." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090902122847.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. 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