New UCLA Study Shows Link Between TBI And PTSD
Evidence regarding an existing link between traumatic brain injury and the influence it has on post-traumatic stress disorder has been discovered by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers in a new study published in the journal Biological Psychology. Their report also suggests a link between anxiety disorders and mild traumatic brain injuries.
UCLA researchers say that it was the analogy observed between traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder in military personnel. Studies have been conducted on rats. Until now, no reason for this correlation has been found. The simplest answer would have been that it’s nothing more than a coincidence. Rats were tested both physically and emotionally. After inflicting a brain trauma, researchers used “fear conditioning” techniques on the laboratory rats and further analyzed the results.
“We found that the rats with the earlier traumatic brain injury acquired more fear than control rats (without traumatic brain injury),” said Fanselow, a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute. “Something about the brain injury rendered them more susceptible to acquiring an inappropriately strong fear. It was as if the injury primed the brain for learning to be afraid.”
After accumulating the data required, scientists analyzed the amygdalae of the test rats, a structure that has a key role in the processing of emotional reactions. Analysis showed an increased number of receptors for the neurotransmitters that affect the learning process.
The result of the study suggests that the amygdala is left in a more responsive state after a brain injury is inflicted, thus making patients more susceptible to experience post-traumatic stress and fear.
The study was funded by the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense. Researchers, along with Michael Fanselow, include neurosurgery and pharmacology professor David Hovda, also UCLA’s Brain Injury Research Center director, graduate student Floyd Buen, postdoctoral fellow Andrew Poulos and associate professor Christopher Giza.
“One of UCLA’s great strengths is the spirit of collaboration that allows scientists from very different departments to combine their very different expertise to answer important but difficult questions,” added Michael Fanselow, main author and professor at UCLA