Brain scans enable scientists to detect PTSD in veterans with 90% accuracy
More here: Scientists say scanner can detect PTSD in veterans - CNN.com
Post-traumatic stress is estimated to afflict more than 300,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, but until now, it's been labeled a "soft disorder" -- one without an objective biological path to diagnosis. That may have changed this week, after researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center announced they'd found a distinct pattern of brain activity among PTSD sufferers.
The team used magnetoencephalography (MEG), a brain imaging method that measures how the brain processes information.
They scanned the brains of 74 U.S. veterans with PTSD, and 250 civilians without the disorder, and say that by spotting specific brain biomarkers, they managed to accurately diagnose PTSD sufferers with 90 percent accuracy.
MEG machines are a fast, sensitive and accurate way to measure electrical activity in the brain.
Whereas CT scans and MRIs record brain signals every few seconds, MEGs can do it by the millisecond, catching biomarkers and brain activity that the other tests inevitably miss.
The study could be a breakthrough for the military, which has been scrambling to address a surge in post-traumatic symptoms among newly returning vets. Right now, troops are evaluated by mental health experts, but diagnosis is a crapshoot: Symptoms can take years to show up, and they vary from person to person, even among those exposed to the same traumas.