Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Veterans with Gulf War Illness show brain changes linked to memory deficits

Date:
October 15, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
New research illuminates definitive brain alterations in troops with Gulf War Illness thought to result from the exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, including sarin gas, during the first Persian Gulf War.

New research illuminates definitive brain alterations in troops with Gulf War Illness (GWI) thought to result from the exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, including sarin gas, during the first Persian Gulf War.

"More than 250,000 troops, or approximately 25% of those deployed during the first Persian Gulf War, have been diagnosed with Gulf War Illness (GWI). Although medical professionals have recognized the chronic and often disabling illness for almost two decades, brain changes that uniquely identify GWI have been elusive until now," explained researcher Bart Rypma, principal investigator at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.

This study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, is novel in that it confirms GWI deficits in working memory, a critical cognitive function that enables short-term retention of information for higher-level thinking ability.

In addition, brain alterations revealed in the study show a consistent pattern representing a neurobiological marker that could potentially be used to positively identify GWI.

The research team assessed three aspects of working memory: accuracy, speed, and efficiency. Results showed that participants with GWI performed significantly slower and less accurately than matched healthy veterans, and their efficiency decreased with increasing task difficulty.

During these difficult conditions, the participants showed relatively lower levels of activity in prefrontal brain regions which may compromise their ability to implement effective, higher-level thinking strategies in cognitively demanding situations.

"Our results revealed that at the root of cognitive issues in GWI patients are profound working memory deficits that correlate with a unique brain change visible in the fMRI scanner. These results support an empirical link between exposure to neurotoxic chemicals, specifically sarin nerve gas, and cognitive deficits and neurobiological changes in the brain," said Rypma. "Implementing interventions that improve working memory could have positive effects on many aspects of daily life from the ability to complete a shopping list, match names with faces, all the way to elevating mood."

"Difficulty remembering has been the most common, unexplained impairment resulting from service in the 1991 Persian Gulf War," said Robert Haley, co-investigator and Chief of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "This functional MRI study provides the first objective evidence showing the exact malfunctions in the brain's memory circuits that underlie these chemically induced memory problems."

The new findings may also have implications for the treatment of several disorders involving similar neural systems, including one Alzheimer's disease.

"Both GWI and Alzheimer's disease result in profound cognitive impairment and share similar neurochemical underpinnings," explained the study's lead author Nicholas Hubbard. "The distinct neural markers associated with cognitive performance and GWI revealed in our study can be useful for future research to objectively measure the efficacy of treatments for GWI as well as other brain disorders related to the same neurotransmitter system, like Alzheimer's disease."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. A. Hubbard, J. L. Hutchison, M. A. Motes, E. Shokri-Kojori, I. J. Bennett, R. M. Brigante, R. W. Haley, B. Rypma. Central Executive Dysfunction and Deferred Prefrontal Processing in Veterans With Gulf War Illness. Clinical Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/2167702613506580

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Veterans with Gulf War Illness show brain changes linked to memory deficits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015191409.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, October 15). Veterans with Gulf War Illness show brain changes linked to memory deficits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015191409.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Veterans with Gulf War Illness show brain changes linked to memory deficits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015191409.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