WEDNESDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) The flashbacks experienced
by people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are associated
with heightened activity on the right side of the brain, a new
In research that included 80 people with PTSD (many of them U.S.
combat veterans), 18 PTSD patients in remission and 284 people
without the condition, researchers used a technique called MEG
(magnetoencephalography) to detect magnetic charges given off when
neurons in the brain connect and communicate.
Participants were asked to wear a MEG helmet while concentrating
on a spot 65 centimeters in front of them for 60 seconds. Compared
with the healthy "controls," the PTSD patients showed "hyperactive"
communication between the temporal cortex -- the part of the brain
thought to be responsible for reliving past experiences -- and two
other areas on the right side of the brain.
The PTSD patients in remission had similar but less pronounced
brain activity as those with PTSD.
This "hyperactive" brain state occurred even though the PTSD
patients, and all the other participants, were in a relaxed state
while undergoing MEG.
"Remarkably, the differences we found between the PTSD and the control groups were documented in a task-free state," the researchers wrote. They added that in people with PTSD, the right hemisphere was overactive even when individuals were not reliving a traumatic experience.
The study -- conducted by the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs
Medical Center and the University of Minnesota -- appears in the
Oct. 28 issue of the
Journal of Neural Engineering.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about