PTSD diagnosed by measuring magnetic fields in the brain

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Scientists have found a noninvasive and reliable way to diagnose PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), by measuring magnetic fields in the brain. Magnetoencephalography (MEG), unlike CT scans, MRI, or x-rays measures the workings of thousands of brain cells, and can help diagnose individuals with PTSD, in addition to measuring the severity of post traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD affects a wide range of individuals and is seen frequently among war veterans. The disorder interferes with quality of life and disrupts family health. Individuals who suffer from post traumatic stress are prone to anger, nightmares, flashbacks and hyper- awareness of their surroundings.

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The study involved 74 United States veterans who underwent magnetoencephalography (MEG) that for the first time allowed scientists to objectively diagnose PTSD with a ninety percent accuracy rate. The researchers were able to identify individuals who suffer from PTSD separately from healthy volunteers in the study.

The study, led by Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Engdahl., Ph.D, allowed researchers to measure specific biomarkers of PTSD that can be used to measure the severity of post traumatic stress disorder a well as progress from treatment interventions.

MEG is a non invasive means that can, for the first time, differentiate between PTSD and other brain disorders. Past studies of magnetoencephalography have shown the technique that measures brain activity that occurs on a millisecond by millisecond basis is also a diagnostic tool that can be used for Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis diagnosis. MEG studies measure magnetic fields in the brain that can diagnose post traumatic stress and can be used to help gauge the success of PTSD treatment.

AP Georgopoulos et al 2010 J. Neural Eng. 7 016011 (7pp) doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/7/1/016011

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