Journal Highlight: A functional near-Infrared spectroscopy study of trauma-related auditory and olfactory cues: Posttraumatic stress disorder or combat experience?

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  • Published: Jan 1, 2018
  • Author: spectroscopyNOW
  • Channels: Infrared Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Journal Highlight: A functional near-Infrared spectroscopy study of trauma-related auditory and olfactory cues: Posttraumatic stress disorder or combat experience?

A combat-related PTSD symptom provocation paradigm using functional near-infrared spectroscopy has been used to elicit unique neurological responses across three groups: combat veterans with PTSD, combat veterans without PTSD, and nonmilitary participants without PTSD.

Image: US Department of Defense

A functional near-Infrared spectroscopy study of trauma-related auditory and olfactory cues: Posttraumatic stress disorder or combat experience?

Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2017, 30, 656-665
Michael A. Gramlich, Sandra M. Neer, Deborah C. Beidel, Corey J. Bohil and Clint A. Bowers

Abstract: The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among U.S. veterans deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan necessitates the need for comprehensive assessment and treatment strategies. This study investigated the utility of a combat-related PTSD symptom provocation paradigm to elicit unique neurological responses across three groups: combat veterans with PTSD, combat veterans without PTSD, and nonmilitary participants without PTSD. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) the results indicated that combat veterans with PTSD demonstrated significant activation to a trauma-related sound compared with nonmilitary personnel, channel 14: d = 1.03, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.28, 1.76]; channel 15: d = 1.30, 95% CI [0.53, 2.06]; and combat veterans without PTSD, channel 14: d = 0.87, 95% CI [0.14, 1.59]. Specifically, this increased neural activation was approximately located in the right medial superior prefrontal cortex (Brodmann areas 9/10), an area associated with experiencing negative or threatening stimuli and emotional detachment. There were no differences across the groups for nontrauma-related sounds. Results were less clear with respect to a combat-related odor. These results suggest a specific neurophysiological response to trauma-related cues and, if replicated, may offer a biomarker for combat-related PTSD. Such a response could provide incremental validity over diagnostic assessments alone and assist in planning and monitoring of treatment outcome.

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