Bringing the battle home

11194374146_b51f378241_bAuburn University is joining forces with military researchers to study the structures and activity of the brains of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to better understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-concussion syndrome (PCS). The project brings together the Auburn University Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research Center, the Department of Psychology in Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts and the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory in Ft. Rucker, Ala.

Faculty and graduate students in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Psychology are testing 160 soldiers – those with PTSD, those with PCS and healthy control soldiers. A percentage of the healthy control soldiers have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, but do not have PTSD or PCS symptoms.

“We hope to use our results to test the efficacy of different treatments for people with PCS and PTSD,” said Tom Denney, director of the MRI Research Center.

Capt. Michael Dretsch, chief of neuroscience applications with the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program at the Pentagon, said he met Denney and Jeffrey Katz, director of the Cognitive and Behavioral Science program in the Department of Psychology, while he was stationed at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Ft. Rucker. Denney and Katz were presenting research there. Because of their shared research interests, Dretsch said he thought combining their work would be a great collaboration. They began working on grant proposals, and Dretsch was able to secure funding from the Military Operational Medical Research Program through the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

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