Scars of War has started a five year brain-scanning project, through which we will determine the neurological effects of combat on war veterans – beginning with those suffering from PTSD.
However, the full spectrum of post-combat problems ranges from traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the much less easily identified “mild” traumatic brain injury (mTBI), through various psychological conditions like battle shock and PTSD, to alcohol misuse and depression .
By using new scanning techniques to record short-term (over milliseconds) and long-term (over years) changes in brain processing, we are hoping for the first time to understand the changes in structural and functional brain networks of veterans who are psychologically affected by their experiences.
Led by Prof Kringelbach, managed by doctorial researcher Marina Charquero Ballester, the team will compare these results with those of matched participants who do not have psychological symptoms. Similar scanning studies are planned which will look at combat veterans who have been exposed to TBI and mTBI, and those with alcohol problems.
Once the underlying brain mechanisms are understood and the causes of the symptoms determined, much clearer diagnostic criteria for the conditions are likely to be established. Parallel work with epidemiological and other work by institutions like Kings Centre for Military Health Research, will guide the focus of our own work, which should begin to indicate causes for the correlations and trends they’ve already indicated.
Further scanning work comparing potential therapies will enable more effective treatments to be developed.