The first step toward treating those with post-traumatic stress disorder is successfully identifying the problem. According to a post in the Science Daily, researchers at the University of Minnesota VA Medical Center have identified a biological marker in the brains of those who exhibit PTSD.
The study findings are published January 20 in the Journal of Neural Engineering. Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Engdahl., Ph.D. – both members of the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and University of Minnesota – led the study.
The study examined a group of 74 United States veterans and for the first time, objectively diagnosed PTSD using magnetoencephalography (MEG). This non-invasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain accomplished something standard brain scans could not.
Researchers were able to differentiate PTSD patients from healthy patients with more than 90 percent accuracy using MEG. The brain has networks of nerves that continuously interact – especially to create behavior and cognition.
The MEG has 248 sensors that can record these interactions in the brain and represent the workings of tens of thousands of brain cells. With this recording method, researchers were able to locate unique biomarkers in the brains of those patients who exhibit PTSD.
“These findings document robust differences in brain function between the PTSD and control groups that can be used for differential diagnosis and which possess the potential for assessing and monitoring disease progression and effects of therapy,” Georgopoulos said in Science Daily.
In addition to the ability to diagnose those with PTSD, researchers were also able to estimate the severity of the suffering of the individual. This implies that the MEG can be used to gauge how badly patients are impacted by other brain disorders – especially when they cannot communicate on their own.