Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining.
Very cliche I know, but as with many cliches, there is often a remarkable thread of truth in it. Regular readers may remember how I blogged about the Japanese Tsunami, the earthquakes and how it will probably turn into a PTSD time bomb. All negative stuff, but gratifyingly, scientists in Japan have seized the opportunity to conduct further research into the effects of PTSD on the brain.
They studied brain scans of 42 healthy young adolescents from before the events of that tragic day and compared them with new scans taken 6 – 9 months after the earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis occurred.
Their findings indicate that there is an actual shrinkage in the frontal cortex of the brain. An area which governs decisions and regulates emotion. Interestingly, the amount of shrinkage would appear to correlate with the severity of the PTSD symptoms being experienced by the individual. Researchers also found that individuals a smaller anterior cingulate cortex before the traumatic incident where more prone to develop PTSD type symptoms subsequent to the event. Although much research in this field has suggested physical changes in the brain, this is the first study to actually pinpoint the areas which undergo the change. It is also important to note that these changes are reversible.
The implications of this study are, for now, unclear. But one thing that would be useful is the ability to add brain scans to the diagnostic repetoir of health professionals. Well done the Japanese for recognizing the opportunities which, whilst born out of tragedy, were too good to miss. Every cloud does have a silver lining!