Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a difficult condition to diagnose in patients that have difficulty “opening up” to a psychiatrist. Moreover, because symptoms of PTSD are often used as evidence in court cases, an objective test can be a welcome tool in helping to convict violent criminals. Now clinical researchers from the VA and University of Minnesota are reporting in the Journal of Neural Engineering that magnetoencephalography can provide an accurate analysis of the existence of PTSD in the brains of its victims.
From the University of Minnesota:

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The researchers examined 74 veterans of conflicts in World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan who had been diagnosed with PTSD, along with 250 healthy volunteers. Using a technique developed by [Apostolos Georgopoulos, Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center], they monitored magnetic signals from groups of neurons in communication with each other.

They noted a pattern of miscommunication that was nearly unique to PTSD patients. Overall, they were able to identify people as PTSD patients or healthy controls with more than 90 percent accuracy.

“Compared to evidence from functional MRI and other diagnostic tools currently being accepted by courts for other disorders, this test is much stronger and has a higher probability of being accepted as evidence by courts,” Georgopoulos says.
The pattern seen in PTSD patients appears to be a flaring up of brain networks that have to do with reliving experiences. Also, the strength of the pattern mirrored the severity of symptoms, suggesting that the test may be used to monitor a patient’s progress during treatment.

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