19 September 2009

Cognitive decline in solders experiences combat trauma

Soldiers who have intense or traumatic combat experiences exhibit evidence of cognitive changes
JAMA Archive Journals: 7 September 2009
In a study of whether neuropsychological changes occur following deployment to war zones, post-traumatic stress disorder appeared to be associated with attention deficits in soldiers one year after returning from Iraq, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, intense combat experiences were associated with faster reaction times regardless of how recently a soldier was deployed.

Previous research has suggested that as soldiers face prolonged stressful and life-threatening situations, changes in their brains direct their cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) resources toward survival, according to background information in the article. For instance, they may respond to dangerous events more quickly while losing the ability to pay attention, learn and remember events not related to combat. "However, it remains unknown whether deployment-related neuropsychological changes persist over time, are associated with stress-related factors (e.g., combat intensity, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms and depressive reactions) or are better accounted for by demographic and contextual variables," the authors write. … > full press release

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